Safely storing human tissue requires expertise and knowledge on the best and highest quality tissue storage preservation processes for your needs. Academic, life sciences and clinical industry professionals all use different tissue storage methods depending on their products. Storage temperatures and conditions are different based on the kind of tissue being stored. Stirling Ultracold offers environmentally friendly ultra-low storage solutions that are ideal for many types of tissue. 

Types of Tissue Storage

Human tissues may be preserved for long periods and do not need to be used immediately. Learn more about tissue block storage.

Small Tissue Storage

  • Stored at room temperature in plastic peel-packs or vacuum-sealed glass jars
  • If they are stored this way, they typically expire in 3 years

Large Tissue Storage

  • Frozen at -80° C
  • Stored in specific commercial freezers that preserve those temperatures
  • When stored this way, they can last for around 5 years

Freeze Dried Tissue 

  • Because this tissue has gone through a freeze-drying process, it does not need specific storage temperatures
  • All that is required is typical ambient room temperature
  • Recommended that this tissue is properly packaged and kept in a secure, dark, dry place with a controlled entry (e.g. a drawer or a cupboard)
  • If exposed to direct sunlight, packaging can become fragile and susceptible to damage
  • Normally expires 3 years from the donation (expiration date is located on the pack)

Frozen Tissue 

Must be stored in a specified freezer or refrigerator that includes:

  • Nonstop recording of the temperature (through a data logger or chart recorder) that should be checked and authorized weekly next to the mandatory temperature limit
  • An audible, visual and/or remote alarm that notifies you when the freezer is not within the correct temperature range
  • May be kept in an alarmed freezer that runs at -80° C (such as our SU780XLW ULT model, or the SU105UE or ULT25NEU)
  • A process and structure in place that allows for a speedy response to alarms at any time or day of the week

Cryopreserved Tissue

  • Stored in vapor phase nitrogen between -135° C and -196° CShould not be returned to nitrogen storage once the specimen has been warmed
  • Normally expires after 6 months of storage
  • May be placed in a +4°C refrigerator for no longer than 24 hours
  • Can often be stored in a -80°C, post cryopreservation, to extend shelf life
  • Cannot re-freeze


Storage Temperature Depends on the Tissue

Bones and Tendons

  • Stored below -40°C for the maximum shelf life which is 5 years after donation
  • For no longer than 3 months, they can be kept between -20° and -40°
  • Tissues can be placed in a +4°C refrigerator for no more than 24 hours and cannot be refrozen


  • Needs to be stored below -40°C because the high concentration glycerol that it is kept in liquefies higher than this temperature
  • Can be stored in a +4°C refrigerator for no longer than 24 hours once it is thawed (cannot re-freeze)

Cardiovascular Tissues

  • Cryopreserved and stored in a specified liquid nitrogen cooled unit at -196° C

Taking Proper Care of Tissue Storage

Once all of the quality validation information has been reviewed and approved, the tissues can be released and distributed for the intended use. Human tissue is a useful resource and should be used with careful attention toexpiration periods, keeping stock levels stored under proper conditions . If the tissue is expired, it cannot be used, and it must be immediately thrown away.

Stirling Ultracold ultra-low temperature (ULT) freezers are used by life sciences, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, academic, non-profit, and clinical research customers all over the world. Contact us for more information on how we can provide a leading solution for tissue storage.