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Introduction to Classic Cell Culture Media, how to choose the media?

Many kinds of classical cell culture media, such as DMEM, RPMI 1640, MEM, and DMEM/F12, are the most widely used. Others, such as M199, IMDM, and L15 medium, are also used to culture certain cells. The characteristics and applications of these cell culture media are as follows.

1. BME cell culture medium

Basic Eagle medium was designed by Eagle in 1955, containing BSS + 12 kinds of amino acids + glutamine + 8 kinds of vitamins. It is simple, easy to add, and suitable for various passaged cell lines and special research use, based on which improved varieties of cell culture medium are MEM, DMEM, IMDM, etc.

2. MEM cell culture medium

This is improved on Eagle’s basic medium (BME) in 1959, lysine and biotin were removed, and amino acid concentration was increased. However, because of its limited nutrient content, it is not necessarily the best medium for production-specific cell culture.

3. DMEM cell culture medium

DMEM is an Eagle medium modified by Dulbecco, initially designed for mouse fibroblasts. DMEM has twice the amino acid concentration of MEM, four times the vitamin concentration of MEM, and uses double the HCO3- and CO2 concentration for better buffering. The original formulation contained 1000 mg/L of glucose, which was later adjusted to 4500 mg/L for the growth of certain cells, often referred to as low and high glucose.

Low sugar is suitable for dependent adherent cell culture, especially for tumor cell culture with a fast growth rate and poor adhesion. High sugar is more suitable for high-density suspension cell culture, for clonal culture with poor attachment but does not want it to be detached from the original growth point, and for the culture of myeloma cells and transformed cells transfected with DNA in hybridoma.

4. IMDM cell culture medium

Guilber and Iscove modified Dulbecco’ Medium to Iscove’s Medium for culturing erythrocytes and macrophage precursors. IMDM cell culture medium contains selenium, additional amino acids and vitamins, sodium pyruvate, and HEPES and replaces iron nitrate with potassium nitrate.IMDM also promotes the growth of mouse B lymphocytes, LPS-stimulated B cells, bone marrow hematopoietic cells, T cells, and lymphoma cells.IMDM is a very nutrient-rich culture medium and can be used for the rapid proliferation of high-density cells.

5. RPMI-1640 cell culture medium

Developed by Moore et al. at Roswell Park Memorial Institute in 1967, it is designed for lymphocyte culture and contains BSS + 21 kinds of amino acids + 11 kinds of vitamins. It is now also used for suspension cell culture, such as mammalian, special hematopoietic cells, normal or malignantly proliferating leukocytes, and hybridoma cells. Other adult lymphocytes like K-562, HL-60, Jurkat, Daudi, IM-9, T-cell lymphoma cells, and HCT-15 epithelial cells can be used for reference.

6. HamF10 cell culture medium

1963 Ham design, containing trace elements, can be used when the serum content is low, suitable for cloned culture. f10 is suitable for hamster, and human diploid cells, especially suitable for amniotic fluid cell culture.

7. DMEM/F12 cell culture medium

Ham’s F12 is designed for cloning CHO cells at low serum concentration and is now widely used in the analysis of clone formation rate and primary culture. F12 can also be used with DMEM and other volumes to obtain a high concentration and composition of diverse products. This medium has been applied to many primary culture, and more difficult to raise the culture of cell lines. It is also often used as a base medium for serum-free cultures because of its rich nutrient content and the ability to use less serum.

8. M199 cell culture medium

M-199 medium is a cell culture medium with defined chemical composition designed by Morgan et al. in 1950. It contains 53 components besides BSS and is a comprehensive medium used primarily for chick embryo fibroblast culture. m-199 medium must be supplemented with the serum to support long-term culture. It can be used to culture cells of many species of origin and can culture transfected cells, and is now widely used for virology and vaccine production.

9. McCoy5A medium

McCoy5A medium is a cell culture medium designed by MeCoy in 1959 for sarcoma cells and contains BSS and 40 other components. It can support the growth of various primary grafts (such as bone marrow, skin, lung, and spleen) and is mainly used for tissue biopsy culture, some lymphocyte culture, and growth support of some difficult to culture cells, in addition to general primary cell culture—for example, Jensen rat sarcoma fibroblasts, human lymphocytes, HT-29, BHL-100, and other epithelial cells.

10. L15 Cell Culture Medium

The L-15 culture medium is suitable for the culture of rapidly proliferating tumor cells and is used to culture tumor cell lines in the absence of CO2. This culture medium uses a phosphate buffer system with a further improved amino acid composition and glucose replaced by galactose.

How to choose a cell culture medium?

  1. You can check the reference literature or consult it when you buy cell lines. You can also search on the websites of some biological companies, such as the Invitrogen website, which has a Cell Line Database tool. Select the cell type you are interested in, and it will pop up recommended media, serum and transfection reagents, etc., sometimes with optimized transfection steps, which is very convenient.
  2. You can also refer to the usual media used in other labs, many of which are suitable for culturing multiple cells.
  3. Choose the medium according to the cell line’s characteristics and the experiment’s needs. For example, mouse cell lines are mostly selected RPMI1640.
  4. Use various media to culture the target cells, and observe their growth status. You can use the growth curve, colony formation rate, and other indicators to judge, according to the experimental results, to select the best medium, which is the most objective method but more tedious.

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