Type of protein supplement in cryopreservation solutions impacts on the degree of ultrastructural damage in frozen-thawed human oocytes

Lucia De Santis, Stefania Annarita Nottola, Giovanni Coticchio, Andrea Borini, Benedetta Iussig, Selenia Miglietta, Guido Macchiarelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Protein sources used as supplements of IVF culture media are known to have several implications for the function and stability of embryo culture environment. In fact, they i) transport biologically active molecules ii) chelate heavy metals, iii) regulate media pH, iii) scavenge reactive oxygen species (ROS) and iv) attenuate osmotic stress to which cells are exposed in sub-optimal culture conditions. Instead, their specific relevance to the formulation of cryopreservation solutions used for gamete and embryo cryopreservation remains uncertain. In the present work, we tested the hypothesis that different protein supplements present in cryopreservation solutions, serum or plasma protein solution (PPS), or different concentrations of the same supplement (serum), are associated with different types and/or magnitude of cryopreservation-derived cell damage. To this end, using cryopreservation solutions containing serum or PPS, donated supernumerary human mature oocytes were frozen-thawed by slow freezing and compared with fresh controls. Ultrastructural markers of oocyte quality were adopted as objective measure to assess possible damage from cryopreservation. The study results indicate that the adoption of serum minimises cell damage induced by cryopreservation. Indeed, typical hallmarks of cryodamage in human oocytes, i.e. loss of cortical granules, zona pellucida hardening and above all vacuolization, were largely reduced in oocytes cryopreserved with solutions containing serum, especially if used a higher concentration. This suggest that oocyte cryopreservation still has significant margins of improvement that may derive also from composition of cryopreservation media.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-150
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • Cryopreservation
  • Electron microscopy
  • Oocytes
  • Protein supplement
  • Slow freezing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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