Storage of human biospecimens: Selection of the optimal storage temperature

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Millions of biological samples are currently kept at low tempertures in cryobanks/biorepositories for long-term storage. The quality of the biospecimen when thawed, however, is not only determined by processing of the biospecimen but the storage conditions as well. The overall objective of this article is to describe the scientific basis for selecting a storage temperature for a biospecimen based on current scientific understanding. To that end, this article reviews some physical basics of the temperature, nucleation, and ice crystal growth present in biological samples stored at low temperatures (-20°C to -196°C), and our current understanding of the role of temperature on the activity of degradative molecules present in biospecimens. The scientific literature relevant to the stability of specific biomarkers in human fluid, cell, and tissue biospecimens is also summarized for the range of temperatures between -20°C to -196°C. These studies demonstrate the importance of storage temperature on the stability of critical biomarkers for fluid, cell, and tissue biospecimens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-175
Number of pages11
JournalBiopreservation and Biobanking
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2014

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