Use of sugars in cryopreserving human oocytes

Diane L. Wright, Ali Eroglu, Mehmet Toner, Thomas L. Toth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


In the last 20 years, a worldwide effort to cryopreserve oocytes has resulted in 40 infants and approximately 50 ongoing pregnancies being reported. While the ability to freeze human embryos has become a standard of practice in assisted reproductive technologies, obtaining reliable techniques for oocyte cryopreservation has been more difficult. The unique properties of the mature oocyte, such as the meiotic stage with sensitive spindle structure as well as the large cell volume, are responsible for the limited success obtained to date. There have been two approaches to cryopreserving the oocyte: (i) slow freeze-rapid thaw, and (ii) vitrification protocols with rapid cooling-rapid warming. Both methods have incorporated sugars (sucrose) as a beneficial non-permeating extracellular cryoprotectant. Studies of organisms that survive extreme conditions of freezing/dehydration have demonstrated the ability to accumulate intracellular sugars to afford protection and survival. A novel technique using microinjection of sugars into the oocyte for cryopreservation has been developed as an alternative approach to external addition of sugars. Freezing the human oocyte has been a challenging goal; however, developing research and efforts will, in the near future, provide women with an important option for their reproductive health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-186
Number of pages8
JournalReproductive BioMedicine Online
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2004


  • Birth
  • Human
  • Oocyte cryopreservation
  • Slow freezing
  • Sugar
  • Vitrification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Developmental Biology


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