MethoCult™ H4230

Methylcellulose-based medium without cytokines for human cells

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MethoCult™ H4230

Methylcellulose-based medium without cytokines for human cells

80 mL
Catalog #04230
264 USD


MethoCult™ H4230 is an 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 erythropoietin (EPO) or other cytokines, allowing the addition of cytokines to meet the specific requirements of investigators.

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
• 2-Mercaptoethanol
• Supplements
Semi-Solid Media; Specialized Media
Cell Type:
Hematopoietic Stem and Progenitor Cells
Human; Non-Human Primate
Cell Culture; Colony Assay; Functional Assay
Area of Interest:
Stem Cell Biology

Scientific Resources

Product Documentation

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


Blood 2020 jun

MYC-induced human acute myeloid leukemia requires a continuing IL3/GM-CSF co-stimulus.

E. Bulaeva et al.


Hematopoietic clones with leukemogenic mutations arise in healthy people as they age, but progression to acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is rare. Recent evidence suggests that the microenvironment may play an important role in modulating human AML population dynamics. To investigate this concept further, we examined the combined and separate effects of an oncogene (c-MYC) and exposure to IL3, GM-CSF and SCF on the experimental genesis of a human AML in xenografted immunodeficient mice. Initial experiments showed that normal human CD34+ blood cells transduced with a lentiviral MYC vector and then transplanted into immunodeficient mice produced a hierarchically organized, rapidly fatal and serially transplantable blast population, phenotypically and transcriptionally similar to human AML cells, but only in mice producing IL3, GM-CSF and SCF transgenically, or in regular mice in which the cells were exposed to IL3 or GM-CSF delivered using a co-transduction strategy. In their absence, the MYC+ human cells produced a normal repertoire of lymphoid and myeloid progeny in transplanted mice for many months but, upon transfer to secondary mice producing the human cytokines, the MYC+ cells rapidly generated AML. Indistinguishable diseases were also obtained efficiently from both primitive (CD34+CD38-) and late (GMPs) cells. These findings underscore the critical role that these cytokines can play in activating a malignant state in normally differentiating human hematopoietic cells in which MYC expression has been deregulated. They also introduce a robust experimental model of human leukemogenesis to further elucidate key mechanisms involved and test strategies to suppress them.
Nature materials 2019 may

Targeted homology-directed repair in blood stem and progenitor cells with CRISPR nanoformulations.

R. Shahbazi et al.


Ex vivo CRISPR gene editing in haematopoietic stem and progenitor cells has opened potential treatment modalities for numerous diseases. The current process uses electroporation, sometimes followed by virus transduction. While this complex manipulation has resulted in high levels of gene editing at some genetic loci, cellular toxicity was observed. We have developed a CRISPR nanoformulation based on colloidal gold nanoparticles with a unique loading design capable of cellular entry without the need for electroporation or viruses. This highly monodispersed nanoformulation avoids lysosomal entrapment and localizes to the nucleus in primary human blood progenitors without toxicity. Nanoformulation-mediated gene editing is efficient and sustained with different CRISPR nucleases at multiple loci of therapeutic interest. The engraftment kinetics of nanoformulation-treated primary cells in humanized mice are better relative to those of non-treated cells, with no differences in differentiation. Here we demonstrate non-toxic delivery of the entire CRISPR payload into primary human blood progenitors.
Nature 2018 FEB

Population snapshots predict early haematopoietic and erythroid hierarchies.

B. K. Tusi et al.


The formation of red blood cells begins with the differentiation of multipotent haematopoietic progenitors. Reconstructing the steps of this differentiation represents a general challenge in stem-cell biology. Here we used single-cell transcriptomics, fate assays and a theory that allows the prediction of cell fates from population snapshots to demonstrate that mouse haematopoietic progenitors differentiate through a continuous, hierarchical structure into seven blood lineages. We uncovered coupling between the erythroid and the basophil or mast cell fates, a global haematopoietic response to erythroid stress and novel growth factor receptors that regulate erythropoiesis. We defined a flow cytometry sorting strategy to purify early stages of erythroid differentiation, completely isolating classically defined burst-forming and colony-forming progenitors. We also found that the cell cycle is progressively remodelled during erythroid development and during a sharp transcriptional switch that ends the colony-forming progenitor stage and activates terminal differentiation. Our work showcases the utility of linking transcriptomic data to predictive fate models, and provides insights into lineage development in vivo.
Nature communications 2016

Semi-automated closed system manufacturing of lentivirus gene-modified haematopoietic stem cells for gene therapy.

J. E. Adair et al.


Haematopoietic stem cell (HSC) gene therapy has demonstrated potential to treat many diseases. However, current state of the art requires sophisticated ex vivo gene transfer in a dedicated Good Manufacturing Practices facility, limiting availability. An automated process would improve the availability and standardized manufacture of HSC gene therapy. Here, we develop a novel program for semi-automated cell isolation and culture equipment to permit complete benchtop generation of gene-modified CD34+ blood cell products for transplantation. These cell products meet current manufacturing quality standards for both mobilized leukapheresis and bone marrow, and reconstitute human haematopoiesis in immunocompromised mice. Importantly, nonhuman primate autologous gene-modified CD34+ cell products are capable of stable, polyclonal multilineage reconstitution with follow-up of more than 1 year. These data demonstrate proof of concept for point-of-care delivery of HSC gene therapy. Given the many target diseases for gene therapy, there is enormous potential for this approach to treat patients on a global scale.
Stem Cells 2015 APR

Reversible lineage-specific priming of human embryonic stem cells can be exploited to optimize the yield of differentiated cells.

Lee J-HJBJH et al.


The clinical use of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) requires efficient cellular expansion that must be paired with an ability to generate specialized progeny through differentiation. Self-renewal and differentiation are deemed inherent hallmarks of hESCs and a growing body of evidence suggests that initial culture conditions dictate these two aspects of hESC behavior. Here, we reveal that defined culture conditions using commercial mTeSR1 media augment the expansion of hESCs and enhance their capacity for neural differentiation at the expense of hematopoietic lineage competency without affecting pluripotency. This culture-induced modification was shown to be reversible, as culture in mouse embryonic fibroblast-conditioned media (MEF-CM) in subsequent passages allowed mTeSR1-expanded hESCs to re-establish hematopoietic differentiation potential. Optimal yield of hematopoietic cells can be achieved by expansion in mTeSR1 followed by a recovery period in MEF-CM. Furthermore, the lineage propensity to hematopoietic and neural cell types could be predicted via analysis of surrogate markers expressed by hESCs cultured in mTeSR1 versus MEF-CM, thereby circumventing laborious in vitro differentiation assays. Our study reveals that hESCs exist in a range of functional states and balance expansion with differentiation potential, which can be modulated by culture conditions in a predictive and quantitative manner. Stem Cells 2015;33:1142-1152.