MethoCult™ Express

Methylcellulose-based medium with recombinant cytokines for rapid hematopoietic colony assays of human cells

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Methylcellulose-based medium with recombinant cytokines for rapid hematopoietic colony assays of human cells
From: 720 USD


MethoCult™ Express is intended for use in hematopoietic colony-forming unit (CFU) assays of human cord blood (CB) samples, after a minimum culture period of 7 days. It is recommended for use with red blood cell-depleted CB samples, whole CB samples that have been cryopreserved and thawed, and CB mononuclear cells. MethoCult™ Express is optimized for the growth and enumeration of human hematopoietic progenitor cells after much shorter periods than the 14 -16 days of standard CFU assays. In MethoCult™ Express, colonies containing at least 20 cells can be counted as early as after 7 days of culture. At this time, most colonies are immature and have not yet differentiated into morphologically distinguishable colony types. Therefore the colonies counted after 7 days of culture give information about the total frequency of hematopoietic progenitor cells present in the sample without distinction between different progenitor cell types. If MethoCult™ Express cultures are maintained for 14 - 16 days, colonies derived from erythroid progenitor cells (BFU-E), granulocyte-macrophage progenitor cells (CFU-GM, CFU-G, and CFU-M), and multi-potential granulocyte, erythroid, macrophage, and megakaryocyte progenitor cells (CFU-GEMM) can be counted.

Browse our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on performing the CFU assay and explore its utility as part of the cell therapy workflow.
• Methylcellulose in Iscove's MDM
• Fetal bovine serum
• Bovine serum albumin
• Cytokines, including erythropoietin (EPO)
• Supplements
Semi-Solid Media; Specialized Media
Cell Type:
Hematopoietic Stem and Progenitor Cells
Cell Culture; Colony Assay; Functional Assay
Area of Interest:
Cord Blood Banking; Stem Cell Biology; Transplantation Research

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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


Blood 2011 MAR

NK314 potentiates antitumor activity with adult T-cell leukemia-lymphoma cells by inhibition of dual targets on topoisomerase IIalpha and DNA-dependent protein kinase.

Hisatomi T et al.


Adult T-cell leukemia-lymphoma (ATL) is an aggressive disease, incurable by standard chemotherapy. NK314, a new anticancer agent possessing inhibitory activity specific for topoisomerase IIα (Top2α), inhibited the growth of various ATL cell lines (50% inhibitory concentration: 23-70nM) with more potent activity than that of etoposide. In addition to the induction of DNA double-strand breaks by inhibition of Top2α, NK314 induced degradation of the catalytic subunit of DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PKcs), resulting in impaired DNA double-strand break repair. The contribution of DNA-PK to inhibition of cell growth was affirmed by the following results: NK314 inhibited cell growth of M059J (a DNA-PKcs-deficient cell line) and M059K (a cell line with DNA-PKcs present) with the same potency, whereas etoposide exhibited weak inhibition of cell growth with M059K cells. A DNA-PK specific inhibitor, NU7026, enhanced inhibitory activity of etoposide on M059K as well as on ATL cells. These results suggest that NK314 is a dual inhibitor of Top2α and DNA-PK. Because ATL cells express a high amount of DNA-PKcs, NK314 as a dual molecular targeting anticancer agent is a potential therapeutic tool for treatment of ATL.
Blood 2008 OCT

Unrelated donor umbilical cord blood transplantation for inherited metabolic disorders in 159 pediatric patients from a single center: influence of cellular composition of the graft on transplantation outcomes.

Prasad VK et al.


Outcomes of 159 young patients with inherited metabolic disorders (IMDs) undergoing transplantation with partially HLA-mismatched unrelated donor umbilical cord blood were studied to investigate the impact of graft and patient characteristics on engraftment, overall survival (OS), and graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). Patients received myeloablative chemotherapy (busulfan, cyclophosphamide, ATG) and cyclosporine-based GVHD prophylaxis. Infused cell doses were high (7.57 x 10(7)/kg) because of the patients' young age (median, 1.5 years) and small size (median, 12 kg). Median follow-up was 4.2 years (range, 1-11 years). The cumulative incidences of neutrophil and platelet engraftment were 87.1% (95% confidence interval [CI], 81.8%-92.4%) and 71.0% (95% CI, 63.7%-78.3%). A total of 97% achieved high (textgreater 90%) donor chimerism. Serum enzyme normalized in 97% of patients with diseases for which testings exist. Grade III/IV acute GVHD occurred in 10.3% (95% CI, 5.4%-15.2%) of patients. Extensive chronic GVHD occurred in 10.8% (95% CI, 5.7%-15.9%) of patients by 1 year. OS at 1 and 5 years was 71.8% (95% CI, 64.7%-78.9%) and 58.2% (95% CI, 49.7%-66.6%) in all patients and 84.5% (95% CI, 77.0%-92.0%) and 75.7% (95% CI, 66.1%-85.3%) in patients with high (80-100) performance score. In multivariate analysis, favorable factors for OS were high pretransplantation performance status, matched donor/recipient ethnicity, and higher infused colony forming units.
Bone marrow transplantation 2005 MAY

Association of post-thaw viable CD34+ cells and CFU-GM with time to hematopoietic engraftment.

Yang H et al.


In all, 78 peripheral hematopoietic progenitor cell collections from 52 patients were evaluated using our previously published validated post-thaw assays at the time of collection and following transplantation by assessment of viable CD34(+) cells, and granulocyte-macrophage colony-forming units (CFU-GM) cryopreserved in quality control vials. The median (range) post-thaw recovery of viable CD34(+) cells and CFU-GM was 66.4% (36.1-93.6%) and 63.0% (28.6-85.7%), respectively, which did not show significant correlation with the engraftment of either neutrophils (P=0.136 and 0.417, respectively) or platelets (P=0.88 and 0.126, respectively). However, the reinfused viable CD34(+) cells/kg of patient weight pre- or post-cryopreservation showed significant correlation to engraftment of neutrophils (P=0.0001 and 0.001, respectively) and platelets (P=0.023 and 0.010, respectively), whereas CFU-GM pre- or post-cryopreservation was significantly correlated to neutrophils (P=0.011 and 0.007, respectively) but not to platelets (P=0.112 and 0.100, respectively). The results show that post-cryopreservation assessment of viable CD34(+) cells or CFU-GM is as reliable a predictor of rapid engraftment as that of pre-cryopreservation measures. Therefore, the post-cryopreservation number of viable CD34(+) cells or CFU-GM should be used to eliminate the risks of unforeseen cell loss that could occur during cryopreservation or long-term storage.
Biology of blood and marrow transplantation : journal of the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation 2005 APR

Predictive utility of the attached segment in the quality control of a cord blood graft.

Rodrí et al.


The limited number of progenitor stem cells in umbilical cord blood (UCB) enforces the optimization and strict control of all the procedures involved in its therapeutic use--ie, collection, processing, cryopreservation, thawing, and transportation--to ensure graft potency at transplantation. For this reason, international UCB standards recommend storage of a cell sample attached to the UCB unit as a quantitative and functional control of the unit selected for transplantation. To validate the use of the sample attached to the UCB unit as a quality-control tool for the final product, UCB units (n = 20) stored in liquid nitrogen with the Bioarchive system were analyzed. The UCB units and their attached segments were thawed, and the number and viability of total nucleated cells, mononucleated cells, CD45 + cells, and CD34+ cells were determined, as were colony-forming cell counts. There was no significant difference between UCB units and segments for any of the parameters assessed. Additionally, the linear correlation coefficient (R2) in these paired samples was 0.85 and 0.78 for CD34+ cells and colony-forming cells, respectively. In conclusion, the cell sample in the tube segment physically linked to the transplant UCB bag predicts the total cell content and functionality of the unit and may serve as a source for final quality control of the UCB unit before transplantation.
Bone marrow transplantation 2004 JUN

Pre-transplant prognostic factors for patients with high-risk leukemia undergoing an unrelated cord blood transplantation.

Iori AP et al.


From July 1995 to December 2001, 42 patients with leukemia aged 1-42 years underwent cord blood transplant (CBT) from unrelated, textless or = 2 antigen HLA mismatched donors. In all, 26 patients were in textless or = 2nd complete remission and 16 in more advanced phase. Conditioning regimens, graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) prophylaxis and supportive policy were uniform for all patients. The cumulative incidence of engraftment was 90% (95% CI: 0.78-0.91). The cumulative incidence of III-IV grade acute- and chronic-GVHD was 9% (95% CI: 0.04-0.24) and 35% (95% CI: 0.21-0.60), respectively. The 4-year cumulative incidence of transplant-related mortality (TRM) and relapse was 28% (95% CI: 0.17-0.47) and 25% (95% CI: 0.14-0.45), respectively. The 4-year overall survival (OS), leukemia-free survival (LFS) and event-free survival (EFS) were 45% (95% CI: 0.27-0.63), 47% (95% CI: 0.30-0.64) and 46% (95% CI: 0.30-0.62), respectively. In multivariate analysis, the most important factor affecting outcomes was the CFU-GM dose, associated with CMV serology (P=0.003 and 0.04, respectively) in influencing OS and with patient sex (P=0.008 and 0.03, respectively) in influencing LFS. Finally, CFU-GM dose was the only factor that affected EFS significantly (P=0.02). In conclusion, the infused cell dose expressed as in vitro progenitor cell growth is highly predictive of outcomes after an unrelated CBT and should be considered the main parameter in selecting cord blood units for transplant.