Successful cryopreservation demands there be little or no intracellular ice. One procedure is classical slow equilibrium freezing, and it has been successful in many cases. However, for some important cell types, including some mammalian oocytes, it has not. For the latter, there are increasing attempts to cryopreserve them by vitrification. However, even if intracellular ice formation (IIF) is prevented during cooling, it can still occur during the warming of a vitrified sample. Here, we examine two aspects of this occurrence in mouse oocytes. One took place in oocytes that were partly dehydrated by an initial hold for 12 min at −25°C. They were then cooled rapidly to −70°C and warmed slowly, or they were warmed rapidly to intermediate temperatures and held. These oocytes underwent no IIF during cooling but blackened from IIF during warming. The blackening rate increased about 5-fold for each five-degree rise in temperature. Upon thawing, they were dead. The second aspect involved oocytes that had been vitrified by cooling to −196°C while suspended in a concentrated solution of cryoprotectants and warmed at rates ranging from 140°C/min to 3300°C/min. Survivals after warming at 140°C/min and 250°C/min were low (<30%). Survivals after warming at ≥2200°C/min were high (80%). When warmed slowly, they were killed, apparently by the recrystallization of previously formed small internal ice crystals. The similarities and differences in the consequences of the two types of freezing are discussed.
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Vol. 79 • No. 4