From anhydrobiosis to freeze-drying of eukaryotic cells

Willem F. Wolkers, Fern Tablin, John H. Crowe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


Using what has been learned from nature, it has become possible to stabilize biological structures, including intact cells, in the dry state. Stabilization of cells or tissues in the dried state is of considerable practical significance, as is described in this review. The need for stabilization of cells in the dried state is particularly urgent in bloodbanks, where proper storage of blood cells (platelets and erythrocytes) is still a major problem. Human blood platelets are stored in blood banks for 5 days, after which they are discarded according to Federal regulation. This short lifetime has led to a chronic shortage of platelets. We report here that platelets can be preserved by freeze-drying them with trehalose, a sugar found at high concentrations in organisms that naturally survive drying. We suggest that this finding will obviate the storage problem with platelets and that the principles established here may be extended to more complex eukaryotic cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)535-543
Number of pages9
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology - A Molecular and Integrative Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002


  • Desiccation tolerance
  • Freeze-drying
  • Glasses
  • Platelets
  • Trehalose

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Physiology


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