Volumetric Changes in Cells During Freezing and Thawing

[+] Author and Article Information
J. M. Knox

Department of Electrical Engineering and Computation Center, The University of Texas, Austin, Tex. 78712

G. S. Schwartz

Department of Mechanical Engineering, The University of Texas, Austin, Tex. 78712

K. R. Diller

Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering, The University of Texas, Austin, Tex. 78712

J Biomech Eng 102(2), 91-97 (May 01, 1980) (7 pages) doi:10.1115/1.3138221 History: Received November 06, 1978; Revised September 27, 1979; Online June 15, 2009


A thermodynamic model is presented to describe the combined freezing and thawing process for living cells. Continuous changes in the cell volume are predicted according to the thermal protocol imposed on the system. Experimental verification of the model is sought by monitoring continuously the volume of cells as frozen on a cryomicroscope. The volumes of individual cells are measured from sequential photomicrographs by a computerized image analysis technique. The model and experimental data are in quite close agreement for the freezing process, but upon thawing the experimentally measured volumes consistently increased much more rapidly than predicted by the model. The model can be made to conform to the data by accounting for a substantial influx of electrolyte to the cell at subfreezing temperatures.

Copyright © 1980 by ASME
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