Ultrastructural observations on tissues processed by a quick-freezing, rapid-drying method: Comparison with conventional specimen preparation

Louis Terracio, Patrick W. Bankston, James A. McAteer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations


A quick-freeze, rapid-dry method for processing unfixed tissue for electron microscopy has been developed. The technique employs freezing on a cryogenchilled metal surface and drying in a cryosorption vacuum apparatus that allows osmium-vapor fixation and epoxy-resin embedment under high vacuum. Liver, kidney, bone marrow, and monolayer cultures of ventricular myocytes were selected as tissue specimens representing a wide range of physical properties, to demonstrate the practical aspects of achieving good ultrastructural morphology by freeze drying. A comparison was made between freeze drying and conventional processing using aldehyde fixation and alcohol dehydration. The preservation of cellular ultrastructure achieved by freeze drying allowed the identification of specific cell types within each specimen. Membranous organelles were well preserved, surrounded by cytoplasmic ground substance devoid of ice crystal damage. Electron-dense material was observed within the rough endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi cisternae and vesicles of frozen-dried, but not conventionally processed cells. This suggests the preservation by freeze drying of cytoplasmic components otherwise extracted from the cell by solvent exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-71
Number of pages17
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1981


ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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