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Chapter 9 Close-to-Native Ultrastructural Preservation by High Pressure Freezing

Elsevier Science & Technology
DOI: 10.1016/s0091-679x(08)00409-3
  • Biology
  • Chemistry


Abstract The objective of modern transmission electron microscopy (TEM) in life science is to observe biological structures in a state as close as possible to the living organism. TEM samples have to be thin and to be examined in vacuum; therefore only solid samples can be investigated. The most common and popular way to prepare samples for TEM is to subject them to chemical fixation, staining, dehydration, and embedding in a resin (all of these steps introduce considerable artifacts) before investigation. An alternative is to immobilize samples by cooling. High pressure freezing is so far the only approach to vitrify (water solidification without ice crystal formation) bulk biological samples of about 200 micrometer thick. This method leads to an improved ultrastructural preservation. After high pressure freezing, samples have to be subjected to follow-up procedure, such as freeze-substitution and embedding. The samples can also be sectioned into frozen hydrated sections and analyzed in a cryo-TEM. Also for immunocytochemistry, high pressure freezing is a good and practicable way.

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