Monitoring of freezing patterns within 3D collagen-hydroxyapatite scaffolds using infrared thermography

Vitalii Mutsenko*, Elias Anastassopoulos, Dimitris Zaragotas, Anastasia Simaioforidou, Dmytro Tarusin, Lothar Lauterboeck, Bulat Sydykov, Ricarda Brunotte, Kai Brunotte, Corinna Rozanski, Alexander Y. Petrenko, Ido Braslavsky, Birgit Glasmacher, Oleksandr Gryshkov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The importance of cryopreservation in tissue engineering is unceasingly increasing. Preparation, cryopreservation, and storage of tissue-engineered constructs (TECs) at an on-site location offer a convenient way for their clinical application and commercialization. Partial freezing initiated at high sub-zero temperatures using ice-nucleating agents (INAs) has recently been applied in organ cryopreservation. It is anticipated that this freezing technique may be efficient for the preservation of both scaffold mechanical properties and cell viability of TECs. Infrared thermography is an instrumental method to monitor INAs-mediated freezing of various biological entities. In this paper, porous collagen-hydroxyapatite (collagen-HAP) scaffolds were fabricated and characterized as model TECs, whereas infrared thermography was proposed as a method for monitoring the crystallization-related events on their partial freezing down to −25 °C. Intra- and interscaffold latent heat transmission were descriptively evaluated. Nucleation, freezing points as well as the degree of supercooling and duration of crystallization were calculated based on inspection of respective thermographic curves. Special consideration was given to the cryoprotective agent (CPA) composition (Snomax®, crude leaf homogenate (CLH) from Hippophae rhamnoides, dimethyl sulfoxide (Me2SO) and recombinant type-III antifreeze protein (AFP)) and freezing conditions (‘in air’ or ‘in bulk CPA’). For CPAs without ice nucleation activity, thermographic measurements demonstrated that the supercooling was significantly milder in the case of scaffolds present in a CPA solution compared to that without them. This parameter (ΔT, °C) altered with the following tendency: 10 Me2SO (2.90 ± 0.54 (‘scaffold in a bulk CPA’) vs. 7.71 ± 0.43 (‘bulk CPA’, P < 0.0001)) and recombinant type-III AFP, 0.5 mg/ml (2.65 ± 0.59 (‘scaffold in a bulk CPA’) vs. 7.68 ± 0.34 (‘bulk CPA’, P < 0.0001)). At the same time, in CPA solutions with ice nucleation activity the least degree of supercooling and the longest crystallization duration (Δt, min) for scaffolds frozen ‘in air’ were documented for CLH from Hippophae rhamnoides (1.57 ± 0.37 °C and 21.86 ± 2.93 min) compared to Snomax, 5 μg/ml (2.14 ± 0.33 °C and 19.91 ± 4.72 min), respectively). Moreover, when frozen ‘in air’ in CLH from Hippophae rhamnoides, collagen-HAP scaffolds were shown to have the longest ice-liquid equilibrium phase during crystallization and the lowest degree of supercooling followed by alginate core-shell capsules and nanofibrous electrospun fiber mats made of poly ɛ-caprolactone (PCL) and polylactic acid (PLA) (PCL/PLA) blend. The paper offers evidence that infrared thermography provides insightful information for monitoring partial freezing events in TECs when using different freezing containers, CPAs and conditions. This may further TEC-specific cryopreservation with enhanced batch homogeneity and optimization of CPA compositions of natural origin active at warm sub-zero temperatures.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)57-69
Number of pages13
StatePublished - Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier Inc.


  • Cryopreservation
  • Hippophae rhamnoides
  • Ice-nucleating agents
  • Infrared thermography
  • Partial freezing
  • Tissue-engineered constructs


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