Cell Culture Medium Growth Medium

Stem Cell Regeneration Center Glossary

Culture medium also called growth medium pertains to the liquid medium necessary to carry out a culture and sensitivity test.  The substance acts as a mode of support and nourishment for the cells undergoing culture, and may also contain growth factors necessary to generate cell change.

Cell culture medium, often referred to as growth medium, is a nutrient-rich solution used to grow cells outside their natural environment in vitro. The composition of the medium can vary based on the specific requirements of the cells being cultured.

Components of Cell Culture Medium:

  1. Basal Medium: This contains essential nutrients required for cell growth. Examples include Dulbecco’s Modified Eagle Medium (DMEM), Roswell Park Memorial Institute (RPMI) 1640 medium, and Minimum Essential Medium (MEM).
  2. Serum: This is often added to the basal medium to provide growth factors, hormones, and other essential components. Fetal Bovine Serum (FBS) is the most commonly used serum, but there are alternatives like Newborn Calf Serum (NCS) and Horse Serum.
  3. Amino Acids: Essential and non-essential amino acids are often added to support protein synthesis.
  4. Vitamins: These are essential for various cellular processes.
  5. Salts: Maintain the osmotic balance and pH of the medium.
  6. Carbohydrates: Typically, glucose is added as an energy source, but other sugars can be used depending on the cell type.
  7. Antibiotics: To prevent bacterial contamination, antibiotics like penicillin and streptomycin are often added.
  8. Growth Factors and Hormones: Some cells require specific growth factors or hormones to proliferate.
  9. Attachment Factors: For cells that need to attach to the surface of the culture dish, attachment factors can be added to the medium or used to coat the dish.
  10. Buffering Agents: These maintain the pH of the medium. Commonly used buffering agents include bicarbonate and HEPES.

Types of Stem Cell Media:

  1. Chemically Defined Media: All components of the medium are known, and no serum is used. This type of medium is essential for certain applications where the introduction of unknown factors (like those in serum) is undesirable.
  2. Serum-free Media: Customized for specific cell types, these media do not contain serum but may have other supplements.
  3. Specialized Media: Designed for specific cell types or applications, such as stem cell culture, differentiation, or production of specific proteins.

Considerations in Using Growth Medium:

  1. pH and Osmolarity: It’s crucial to maintain the correct pH and osmolarity for cell health.
  2. Sterility: The medium must be sterile to prevent contamination.
  3. Shelf Life: Over time, the components of the medium can degrade. It’s essential to check the expiration date and store the medium appropriately.
  4. Quality Control: Consistency between batches of medium is vital, especially for research and therapeutic applications.

Changing and Feeding during Cell Culturing:

As cells grow and proliferate, they consume nutrients from the medium and produce waste products. This means the medium must be periodically replaced or “changed” to provide fresh nutrients and remove waste. The frequency of medium changes depends on the cell type and growth rate.

The cell culture medium is a crucial aspect of in vitro cell culturing. By providing the nutrients and environment necessary for cells to grow and function outside their natural setting. Proper selection and maintenance of the growth medium are essential for the success of cell culturing at the Regeneration Center stem cell lab.