Selecting the Right Cell Culture Media for Research Success Listen with ReadSpeaker Our expertise

Selecting the Right Cell Culture Media for Research Success

Cell culture refers to laboratory methods that enable the growth of eukaryotic or prokaryotic cells in physiological conditions. It is a versatile tool used in the investigation of basic scientific and translation of research questions.

The advantage of using cell lines in scientific research is their homogeneity and associated reproducibility in the data generated. Cell cultures require certain environmental conditions for optimal growth and proliferation, including, temperature control, appropriate pH and osmolality, a substrate for cellular attachment, a certain type of culture medium, and an incubator to maintain stable conditions.

What is Cell Culture Media?

Cell culture media refers to a complex mixture of nutrients and growth factors designed to support cellular growth in an artificial environment. When cells, organs, or tissues are removed from living creatures, they must be kept in an appropriate artificial environment.

Nutritional requirements for cell growth differ with different cell types and functions, as do optimal pH and osmolality. As the medium that supplies the necessary nutrients, correct pH and osmolality for cell cultures to survive and proliferate, it is therefore important to consider the cell type when choosing the appropriate growth medium. The choice of cell culture media directly impacts the results of an experiment, and as such, must be carefully considered.

Cell culture media is available in three forms: powdered form (it needs to be prepared and sterilized by the investigator), concentrated form (to be diluted by the investigator), and working solution (to be used directly without further manipulation).


Cell culture media can be broken into two primary types or categories, which are natural media and synthetic media. Natural media are those consisting of natural biological substances, such as plasma, serum, and embryo extract. Synthetic media are those composed of a basal medium and supplements, such as serum, growth factors, and hormones.


The choice of cell culture media is extremely important, and significantly affects the success of cell culture experiments. The selection of the media depends on the type of cells to be cultured and the purpose of the culture and the resources available in the laboratory.

Whether you’re seeding starter cultures, analyzing field samples, or feeding bioreactors, having high-performance media, sera, and reagents can help to ensure consistent, repeatable results.


This quick reference guide is intended to help you choose the right cell culture media products to support your cell types and objectives.



You will need

Cell detachment – The application of force to the cell may detach the cell by breaking adhesive receptor-ligand bonds or it may break the cell in other ways

Lymphocyte separation - Lymphocytes are a subtype of white blood cells in the immune system of vertebrates. Natural killer, T, and B cells are three components of lymphocytes responsible for innate and adaptive immunity. Lymphocyte separation is the in vitro isolation of lymphocytes from diluted whole blood

Cell washing - When culturing cells, and particularly for immunofluorescence procedures, cells are washed with a physiological buffer solution to remove extra serum, proteins, or unbound reagents. This is to both enhance the experimental results by improving the signal-to-noise ratio and also to keep the pH of the solution stable

Cell viability counts - Determine the number of viable cells present in a cell suspension

Contamination: microbial - Microbiological contamination refers to the non-intended or accidental introduction of infectious material

Contamination: fungal

Contamination: microbial and/or fungal

Contamination: mycoplasma

Cryopreservation - This is a process that preserves organelles, cells, tissues, or any other biological constructs by cooling the samples to very low temperatures. The ability to cryopreserve cells for cell therapy increases the potential range of administration, shelf life, and time for safety testing to occur

Supplementation transfection - Transfection is the process by which foreign nucleic acids are inserted into cells, thus producing genetically modified cells. These nucleic acids, DNAs, and RNAs, exist within the cells in either stable or transient form


About the author

Sam Chien joined DKSH in 2022. With more than seven years of experience in commercial and channel management of lab chemicals and life science consumables, he brings extensive experience in these areas. Sam is now the Senior Manager for laboratory consumables to help grow and expand the Life Science portfolio in the APAC region.