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The technique of cryopreservation (maintenance of biological samples in a state of
'suspended animation' at cryogenic temperatures), its potential use in tissue engineering
applications and current obstacles to the development of effective cryopreservation
methods for tissues are reviewed. A didactic overview of the principles of cryobiology
and the methodology of cryopreservation is given, with emphasis on the processes of
injury to cells during freezing and thawing, and how these are related to the physicochemical
and biophysical changes occurring during cryopreservation. Critical issues relevant
to the application of cryopreservation methods to tissues are then addressed, including
heat and mass transfer limitations in these bulk systems, intrinsic differences between
isolated and cultured cells, and mechanisms of freezing injury unique to tissue systems.