MethoCult™ SF H4236

Serum-free methylcellulose-based medium without cytokines for human cells

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MethoCult™ SF H4236

Serum-free methylcellulose-based medium without cytokines for human cells

80 mL
Catalog #04236
276 USD


MethoCult™ SF H4236 is a serum-free, incomplete methylcellulose-based medium for the growth and enumeration of hematopoietic progenitor cells in colony-forming unit (CFU) assays of human bone marrow, mobilized peripheral blood, peripheral blood, and cord blood samples. This formulation does not contain fetal bovine serum, erythropoietin (EPO) or other cytokines and is recommended for testing cytokines and other supplements where the presence of serum is not desired.
• Methylcellulose in Iscove's MDM
• Bovine serum albumin
• Recombinant human insulin
• Human transferrin (iron-saturated)
• 2-Mercaptoethanol
• Supplements
Semi-Solid Media; Specialized Media
Cell Type:
Hematopoietic Stem and Progenitor Cells
Cell Culture; Colony Assay; Functional Assay
Area of Interest:
Stem Cell Biology

Scientific Resources

Educational Materials


Frequently Asked Questions

Why use semi-solid media?

Semi-solid media (methylcellulose-based MethoCult™ and collagen-based MegaCult™-C) allow the clonal progeny of a single progenitor cell to remain spatially isolated from other colonies within a culture, so they may be separately identified and counted.

Why use methylcellulose-based media?

Methylcellulose permits better growth of erythroid colonies than other types of semi-solid support systems (eg. agar) while allowing optimal myeloid colony formation. When appropriate cytokines are present, committed progenitor cells of both erythroid and granulocyte/macrophage lineages (CFU-GM, CFU-G, CFU-M) as well as multi-potential progenitor cells (CFU-GEMM), can be assayed simultaneously in the same culture dish.

Is it necessary to add antibiotics to the media?

No, aseptic technique should be sufficient to maintain sterile cultures. However, antibiotics (eg. Penicillin/Streptomycin) or anti-fungals (eg. Amphotericin B) may be added to the methylcellulose medium if desired.

Is there anything I can do if my cultures appear contaminated?

No, once contamination is visible, it is not possible to rescue the cultures by the addition of antibiotics. Bacteria and yeast inhibit colony formation by depleting nutrients or by releasing toxic substances.

Why can't I use a pipette to dispense methylcellulose-based media?

Methylcellulose is a viscous solution that cannot be accurately dispensed using a pipette due to adherence of the medium to the walls of the pipette tip. Blunt-End, 16 Gauge needles (Catalog #28110), in combination with 3 cc Syringes (Catalog #28230) are recommended for accurate dispensing of MethoCult™.

Can I 'pluck' the colonies for individual analysis?

Yes, colonies can be 'plucked' using a pipette with 200 µL sterile pipette tips or using a glass Pasteur pipette with an elongated tip. Individual colonies should be placed in a volume of 25 - 50 µL of medium, and diluted into suitable culture medium for further culture or analysis.

Why are low adherence dishes so important?

Adherent cells such as fibroblasts can cause inhibition of colony growth and obscure visualization of colonies.

Can MethoCult™ products be used for lymphoid progenitor CFU assays?

Human lymphoid progenitors (B, NK and T) seem to require stromal support for growth therefore cannot be grown in MethoCult™. Mouse pre-B clonogenic progenitors can be grown in MethoCult™ M3630 (Catalog #03630).

Is it possible to set up CFU assays in a 24-well plate?

Yes, as long as a plating concentration optimized for the smaller surface area of a well in a 24-well plate (1.9 cm2 as compared to ~9.5 cm2 for a 35 mm dish) is used for these assays. The number of replicate wells required to get an accurate estimation of CFU numbers may also need to be increased.

Can I stain colonies in MethoCult™ medium?

The cells in individual colonies in MethoCult™ can be stained, eg., for analysis of morphology or phenotype, after they are plucked from the dish and washed free of methylcellulose. Colonies grown in collagen-based MegaCult™-C medium can be used for immunohistochemical or enzymatic staining in situ after dehydration and fixation onto glass slides.

Are there differences in colony morphology with serum-free media?

Serum-containing media generally give better overall growth (colonies may appear larger) but there are no large differences in total colony numbers when CFU assays using serum-free media and serum-containing media are compared, provided that identical cytokines are present.

Can MethoCult™ be made with alternate base media?

Yes, this can be done as a 'custom' media order. Please contact for more information.

Is there a MethoCult™ formulation suitable for HPP-CFC (high proliferative potential colony forming cell)?

Yes, MethoCult™ H4535 (Catalog #04535) can be used for the HPP-CFC assay as it does not contain EPO. The culture period is usually 28 days. It is not necessary to feed these cultures as growth factors in the medium are present in excess. As HPP-CFCs can be quite large, overplating can be a problem. It is recommended to plate cells at two or more different concentrations.
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Product Applications

This product is designed for use in the following research area(s) as part of the highlighted workflow stage(s). Explore these workflows to learn more about the other products we offer to support each research area.

Data and Publications


Cell stem cell 2019 aug

Interconversion between Tumorigenic and Differentiated States in Acute Myeloid Leukemia.

M. D. McKenzie et al.


Tumors are composed of phenotypically heterogeneous cancer cells that often resemble various differentiation states of their lineage of origin. Within this hierarchy, it is thought that an immature subpopulation of tumor-propagating cancer stem cells (CSCs) differentiates into non-tumorigenic progeny, providing a rationale for therapeutic strategies that specifically eradicate CSCs or induce their differentiation. The clinical success of these approaches depends on CSC differentiation being unidirectional rather than reversible, yet this question remains unresolved even in prototypically hierarchical malignancies, such as acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Here, we show in murine and human models of AML that, upon perturbation of endogenous expression of the lineage-determining transcription factor PU.1 or withdrawal of established differentiation therapies, some mature leukemia cells can de-differentiate and reacquire clonogenic and leukemogenic properties. Our results reveal plasticity of CSC maturation in AML, highlighting the need to therapeutically eradicate cancer cells across a range of differentiation states.
Stem Cell Reports 2014 DEC

Tenascin C promotes hematoendothelial development and T lymphoid commitment from human pluripotent stem cells in chemically defined conditions

Uenishi G et al.


The recent identification of hemogenic endothelium (HE) in human pluripotent stem cell (hPSC) cultures presents opportunities to investigate signaling pathways that are essential for blood development from endothelium and provides an exploratory platform for de novo generation of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). However, the use of poorly defined human or animal components limits the utility of the current differentiation systems for studying specific growth factors required for HE induction and manufacturing clinical-grade therapeutic blood cells. Here, we identified chemically defined conditions required to produce HE from hPSCs growing in Essential 8 (E8) medium and showed that Tenascin C (TenC), an extracellular matrix protein associated with HSC niches, strongly promotes HE and definitive hematopoiesis in this system. hPSCs differentiated in chemically defined conditions undergo stages of development similar to those previously described in hPSCs cocultured on OP9 feeders, including the formation of VE-Cadherin(+)CD73(-)CD235a/CD43(-) HE and hematopoietic progenitors with myeloid and T lymphoid potential.
PloS one 2008 JAN

Drug-selected human lung cancer stem cells: cytokine network, tumorigenic and metastatic properties.

Levina V et al.


BACKGROUND: Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are thought to be responsible for tumor regeneration after chemotherapy, although direct confirmation of this remains forthcoming. We therefore investigated whether drug treatment could enrich and maintain CSCs and whether the high tumorogenic and metastatic abilities of CSCs were based on their marked ability to produce growth and angiogenic factors and express their cognate receptors to stimulate tumor cell proliferation and stroma formation. METHODOLOGY/FINDINGS: Treatment of lung tumor cells with doxorubicin, cisplatin, or etoposide resulted in the selection of drug surviving cells (DSCs). These cells expressed CD133, CD117, SSEA-3, TRA1-81, Oct-4, and nuclear beta-catenin and lost expression of the differentiation markers cytokeratins 8/18 (CK 8/18). DSCs were able to grow as tumor spheres, maintain self-renewal capacity, and differentiate. Differentiated progenitors lost expression of CD133, gained CK 8/18 and acquired drug sensitivity. In the presence of drugs, differentiation of DSCs was abrogated allowing propagation of cells with CSC-like characteristics. Lung DSCs demonstrated high tumorogenic and metastatic potential following inoculation into SCID mice, which supported their classification as CSCs. Luminex analysis of human and murine cytokines in sonicated lysates of parental- and CSC-derived tumors revealed that CSC-derived tumors contained two- to three-fold higher levels of human angiogenic and growth factors (VEGF, bFGF, IL-6, IL-8, HGF, PDGF-BB, G-CSF, and SCGF-beta). CSCs also showed elevated levels of expression of human VEGFR2, FGFR2, CXCR1, 2 and 4 receptors. Moreover, human CSCs growing in SCID mice stimulated murine stroma to produce elevated levels of angiogenic and growth factors. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: These findings suggest that chemotherapy can lead to propagation of CSCs and prevention of their differentiation. The high tumorigenic and metastatic potentials of CSCs are associated with efficient cytokine network production that may represent a target for increased efficacy of cancer therapy.
Blood 2006 MAY

Synergistic activity of the proteasome inhibitor PS-341 with non-myeloablative 153-Sm-EDTMP skeletally targeted radiotherapy in an orthotopic model of multiple myeloma.

Goel A et al.


Multiple myeloma is a highly radiosensitive skeletal malignancy, but bone-seeking radionuclides have not yet found their place in disease management. We previously reported that the proteasome inhibitor PS-341 selectively sensitizes myeloma cells to the lethal effects of ionizing radiation. To extend these observations to an in vivo model, we combined PS-341 with the bone-seeking radionuclide 153-Sm-EDTMP. In vitro clonogenic assays demonstrated synergistic killing of myeloma cells exposed to both PS-341 and 153-Sm-EDTMP. Using the orthotopic, syngeneic 5TGM1 myeloma model, the median survivals of mice treated with saline, 2 doses of PS-341 (0.5 mg/kg), or a single nonmyeloablative dose of 153-Sm-EDTMP (22.5 MBq) were 21, 22, and 28 days, respectively. In contrast, mice treated with combination therapy comprising 2 doses of PS-341 (0.5 mg/kg), 1 day prior to and 1 day following 153-Sm-EDTMP (22.5 MBq) showed a significantly prolonged median survival of 49 days (P textless .001). In addition to prolonged survival, this treatment combination yielded reduced clonogenicity of bone marrow-resident 5TGM1 cells, reduced serum myeloma-associated paraprotein levels, and better preservation of bone mineral density. Myelosuppression, determined by peripheral blood cell counts and clonogenicity assays of hematopoietic progenitors, did not differ between animals treated with 153-Sm-EDTMP alone versus those treated with the combination of PS-341 plus 153-Sm-EDTMP. PS-341 is a potent, selective in vivo radiosensitizer that may substantially affect the efficacy of skeletal-targeted radiotherapy in multiple myeloma.
Blood 2004 SEP

Extracellular nucleotides are potent stimulators of human hematopoietic stem cells in vitro and in vivo.

Lemoli RM et al.


Although extracellular nucleotides support a wide range of biologic responses of mature blood cells, little is known about their effect on blood cell progenitor cells. In this study, we assessed whether receptors for extracellular nucleotides (P2 receptors [P2Rs]) are expressed on human hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), and whether activation by their natural ligands, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and uridine triphosphate (UTP), induces HSC proliferation in vitro and in vivo. Our results demonstrated that CD34(+) HSCs express functional P2XRs and P2YRs of several subtypes. Furthermore, stimulation of CD34(+) cells with extracellular nucleotides caused a fast release of Ca(2+) from intracellular stores and an increase in ion fluxes across the plasma membrane. Functionally, ATP and, to a higher extent, UTP acted as potent early acting growth factors for HSCs, in vitro, because they strongly enhanced the stimulatory activity of several cytokines on clonogenic CD34(+) and lineage-negative CD34(-) progenitors and expanded more primitive CD34(+)-derived long-term culture-initiating cells. Furthermore, xenogenic transplantation studies showed that short-term preincubation with UTP significantly expanded the number of marrow-repopulating HSCs in nonobese diabetic/severe combined immunodeficiency mice. Our data suggest that extracellular nucleotides may provide a novel and powerful tool to modulate HSC functions.