In an abstract in Cryobiology 55 (2007), 21st Century Medicine researcher Greg Fahy reports on the biological (pharmacological or “cryopharmacological”) effects of vitrification solutions. He identifies four different mechanisms of toxicity:
1. “Specific toxicity,” or the effects of vitrification agents on well-defined biological pathways or sites.
2. Adverse effects on the hydration of biomolecules as a result of water-cryoprotectant interactions.
3. Protein denaturation by methylated cryoprotectants (such as N-methylformamide), or the vitrification solutions that include them.
4. Chemical reactions between DMSO and cellular sulfhydryl groups.
These investigations into the chemical and physical mechanisms of cryoprotectant toxicity may contribute to improved vitrification solutions that inhibit ice formation and maintain viability of complex organs.