Letter | Published:

Recovery of Human Red Cells after Prolonged Storage at − 79° C.

Naturevolume 169pages10131014 (1952) | Download Citation



THE discovery1 that glycerol largely prevents the death or disruption of living cells when subjected to temperatures well below the freezing point opened the way to the prolonged preservation of cells at temperatures where they might be said to be in a state of ‘metabolic arrest’. It was found2 that only slight hæmolysis results on thawing a blood–glycerol mixture which had been kept for a time at − 79° C. Afterwards, a procedure was devised3 whereby such a thawed blood–glycerol mixture could be freed of glycerol by dialysis and the bulk of the red cells recovered in normal condition. Transfusion studies in rabbits4 and humans5 have established that red cells recovered after storage for short periods at − 79° C. are viable. The purpose of the present communication is to report the results of further experiments in vitro in which human red cells have been stored at − 79° C. for periods up to nine months.

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  1. 1

    Polge, C., Smith, A. U., and Parkes, A. S., Nature, 164, 666 (1949).

  2. 2

    Smith, A. U., Lancet, ii, 910 (1950).

  3. 3

    Sloviter, H. A., Lancet, i, 823 (1951).

  4. 4

    Sloviter, H. A., Lancet, i, 1350 (1951).

  5. 5

    Mollison, P. L., and Sloviter, H. A., Lancet, ii, 862 (1951).

  6. 6

    Smith, A. U., Polge, C., and Smiles, J., J. Roy. Micr. Soc., 71, 186 (1951).

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  1. H. A. SLOVITER: Damon Runyon Senior Clinical Research Fellow, 1950–51, and American Cancer Society Fellow, 1951–52, awarded on recommendation of the Committee on Growth, U.S. National Research Council.


  1. National Institute for Medical Research, Mill Hill, London, N.W.7

    • H. A. SLOVITER


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