Techniques for freezing rat islets have been examined by the intensive use of the supravital stains fluorescein diacetate and ethidium bromide. By the use of a simple scoring system, the effect of the cooling rate, treatment with dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), rate of thawing, and postthaw culture were examined. These studies showed the most effective method to be a 24-h culture of islets, followed by partial incubation with 20% DMSO at 0°C, followed by seeding at −8°C in an alcohol bath. The islets were then cooled at a rate of −0.25°C/min to −40°C followed by quenching in liquid nitrogen at −196°C. Rapid thawing at 37°C was then followed by a 24-h culture. Islets from four Lewis rat donors were cryopreserved, counted, and transplanted intraportally into streptozocin-induced diabetic Lewis rats. Corresponding control transplants were performed with islets from four donors only cultured for 48 h. The results showed that reversal of hyperglycemia in severely diabetic rats was obtained at 5, 5, 6, 6, 6, or 8 days with cryopreserved islets from four donors, compared to reversal of diabetes at 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 12 days with islets from four donors subjected to culture alone. The new cryopreservation technique has several small modifications over previously described methods and results in a significant improvement in islet survival.

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