Red blood cell phenotype fidelity following glycerol cryopreservation optimized for research purposes

Stephen C. Rogers, Laura B. Dosier, Timothy J. McMahon, Hongmei Zhu, David Timm, Hengtao Zhang, Joseph Herbert, Jacqueline Atallah, Gregory M. Palmer, Asa Cook, Melanie Ernst, Jaya Prakash, Mark Terng, Parhom Towfighi, Reid Doctor, Ahmed Said, Matthew S. Joens, James A.J. Fitzpatrick, Gabi Hanna, Xue LinJulie A. Reisz, Travis Nemkov, Angelo D’Alessandro, Allan Doctor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Intact red blood cells (RBCs) are required for phenotypic analyses. In order to allow separation (time and location) between subject encounter and sample analysis, we developed a research-specific RBC cryopreservation protocol and assessed its impact on data fidelity for key biochemical and physiological assays. RBCs drawn from healthy volunteers were ali-quotted for immediate analysis or following glycerol-based cryopreservation, thawing, and deglycerolization. RBC phenotype was assessed by (1) scanning electron microscopy (SEM) imaging and standard morphometric RBC indices, (2) osmotic fragility, (3) deformability, (4) endothelial adhesion, (5) oxygen (O 2 ) affinity, (6) ability to regulate hypoxic vasodilation, (7) nitric oxide (NO) content, (8) metabolomic phenotyping (at steady state, tracing with [1,2,3- 13 C 3 ]glucose ± oxidative challenge with superoxide thermal source; SOTS-1), as well as in vivo quantification (following human to mouse RBC xenotransfusion) of (9) blood oxygenation content mapping and flow dynamics (velocity and adhesion). Our revised glycerolization protocol (40% v/v final) resulted in >98.5% RBC recovery following freezing (-80C) and thawing (37C), with no difference compared to the standard reported method (40% w/v final). Full deglycerolization (>99.9% glycerol removal) of 40% v/v final samples resulted in total cumulative lysis of ~ 8%, compared to ~ 12–15% with the standard method. The post cryopreservation/deglycerolization RBC phenotype was indistinguishable from that for fresh RBCs with regard to physical RBC parameters (morphology, volume, and density), osmotic fragility, deformability, endothelial adhesivity, O 2 affinity, vasoregulation, metabolomics, and flow dynamics. These results indicate that RBC cryopreservation/deglycerolization in 40% v/v glycerol final does not significantly impact RBC phenotype (compared to fresh cells).

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0209201
JournalPloS one
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2018


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