MethoCult™ M3334

Methylcellulose-based medium with EPO (without other cytokines) for mouse cells

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MethoCult™ M3334

Methylcellulose-based medium with EPO (without other cytokines) for mouse cells

90 mL
Catalog #03334
516 USD


MethoCult™ M3334 is optimized for the growth and enumeration of erythroid progenitor cells (late BFU-E and CFU-E) in colony-forming unit (CFU) assays of mouse bone marrow, spleen, and fetal liver cells. This formulation contains erythropoietin (EPO) but does not contain other recombinant cytokines.

Browse our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on performing the CFU assay.
• Methylcellulose in Iscove's MDM
• Fetal bovine serum
• Bovine serum albumin
• Recombinant human insulin
• Human transferrin (iron-saturated)
• 2-Mercaptoethanol
• Recombinant human erythropoietin (EPO)
• 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

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


Procedure summary for hematopoietic CFC Assays

Figure 1. Procedure Summary for Hematopoietic CFU Assays


Blood 2011 MAY

Erythropoietin couples erythropoiesis, B-lymphopoiesis, and bone homeostasis within the bone marrow microenvironment.

Singbrant S et al.


Erythropoietin (Epo) has been used in the treatment of anemia resulting from numerous etiologies, including renal disease and cancer. However, its effects are controversial and the expression pattern of the Epo receptor (Epo-R) is debated. Using in vivo lineage tracing, we document that within the hematopoietic and mesenchymal lineage, expression of Epo-R is essentially restricted to erythroid lineage cells. As expected, adult mice treated with a clinically relevant dose of Epo had expanded erythropoiesis because of amplification of committed erythroid precursors. Surprisingly, we also found that Epo induced a rapid 26% loss of the trabecular bone volume and impaired B-lymphopoiesis within the bone marrow microenvironment. Despite the loss of trabecular bone, hematopoietic stem cell populations were unaffected. Inhibition of the osteoclast activity with bisphosphonate therapy blocked the Epo-induced bone loss. Intriguingly, bisphosphonate treatment also reduced the magnitude of the erythroid response to Epo. These data demonstrate a previously unrecognized in vivo regulatory network coordinating erythropoiesis, B-lymphopoiesis, and skeletal homeostasis. Importantly, these findings may be relevant to the clinical application of Epo.
Blood 2011 MAR

Haploinsufficiency for ribosomal protein genes causes selective activation of p53 in human erythroid progenitor cells.

Dutt S et al.


Haploinsufficiency for ribosomal protein genes has been implicated in the pathophysiology of Diamond-Blackfan anemia (DBA) and the 5q-syndrome, a subtype of myelodysplastic syndrome. The p53 pathway is activated by ribosome dysfunction, but the molecular basis for selective impairment of the erythroid lineage in disorders of ribosome function has not been determined. We found that p53 accumulates selectively in the erythroid lineage in primary human hematopoietic progenitor cells after expression of shRNAs targeting RPS14, the ribosomal protein gene deleted in the 5q-syndrome, or RPS19, the most commonly mutated gene in DBA. Induction of p53 led to lineage-specific accumulation of p21 and consequent cell cycle arrest in erythroid progenitor cells. Pharmacologic inhibition of p53 rescued the erythroid defect, whereas nutlin-3, a compound that activates p53 through inhibition of HDM2, selectively impaired erythropoiesis. In bone marrow biopsies from patients with DBA or del(5q) myelodysplastic syndrome, we found an accumulation of nuclear p53 staining in erythroid progenitor cells that was not present in control samples. Our findings indicate that the erythroid lineage has a low threshold for the induction of p53, providing a basis for the failure of erythropoiesis in the 5q-syndrome, DBA, and perhaps other bone marrow failure syndromes.
Experimental biology and medicine (Maywood, N.J.) 2011 JUN

Protective effect of dammarane sapogenins against chemotherapy-induced myelosuppression in mice.

Yang Y et al.


Chemotherapy is the most common way to treat malignancies, but myelosuppression, one of its common side-effects, is a formidable problem. The present study described the protective role of dammarane sapogenins (DS), an active fraction from oriental ginseng, on myelosuppression induced by cyclophosphamide (CP) in mice. DS was orally administered at different dosages (37.5, 75, and 150 mg/kg) for 10 d after CP administration (200 mg/kg intraperitoneally). The results showed that DS increased the number of white blood cells (WBC) on day 3 and day 7 (P textless 0.05), such that WBC levels were increased by 105.7 ± 29.5% at 75 mg/kg of DS on day 3 (P textless 0.05, compared with the CP group). Similar results were observed in red blood cells and platelets in DS-treated groups. The colony-forming assay demonstrated that the depressed numbers of CFU-GM (colony-forming unit-granulocyte and macrophage), CFU-E (colony-forming unit-erythroid), BFU-E (burst-forming unit-erythroid), CFU-Meg (colony-forming unit-megakaryocyte) and CFU-GEMM (colony-forming unit-granulocyte, -erythrocyte, -monocyte and -megakaryocyte) induced by CP were significantly reversed after DS treatment. Moreover, the ameliorative effect of DS on myelosuppression was also observed in the femur by hematoxylin/eosin staining. In DS-treated groups, ConA-induced splenocyte proliferation was enhanced significantly at all the doses (37.5, 75, 150 mg/kg) on day 3 at the rate of 50.3 ± 8.0%, 77.6 ± 8.5% and 44.5 ± 8.4%, respectively, while lipopolysaccharide-induced proliferation was increased mainly on day 7 (P textless 0.01), with an increased rate of 39.8 ± 5.6%, 34.9 ± 6.6% and 38.3 ± 7.3%, respectively. The thymus index was also markedly increased by 70.4% and 36.6% at 75 mg/kg on days 3 and 7, respectively, as compared with the CP group. In summary, DS has a protective function against CP-induced myelosuppression. Its mechanism might be related to stimulating hematopoiesis recovery, as well as enhancing the immunological function.
Blood 2011 JAN

Angiopoietin-like protein 3 supports the activity of hematopoietic stem cells in the bone marrow niche.

Zheng J et al.


The physiologic roles of angiopoietin-like proteins (Angptls) in the hematopoietic system remain unknown. Here we show that hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) in Angptl3-null mice are decreased in number and quiescence. HSCs transplanted into Angptl3-null recipient mice exhibited impaired repopulation. Bone marrow sinusoidal endothelial cells express high levels of Angptl3 and are adjacent to HSCs. Importantly, bone marrow stromal cells or endothelium deficient in Angptl3 have a significantly decreased ability to support the expansion of repopulating HSCs. Angptl3 represses the expression of the transcription factor Ikaros, whose unregulated overexpression diminishes the repopulation activity of HSCs. Angptl3, as an extrinsic factor, thus supports the stemness of HSCs in the bone marrow niche.
Blood 2011 JAN

Enhanced erythropoiesis in Hfe-KO mice indicates a role for Hfe in the modulation of erythroid iron homeostasis.

Ramos P et al.


In hereditary hemochromatosis, mutations in HFE lead to iron overload through abnormally low levels of hepcidin. In addition, HFE potentially modulates cellular iron uptake by interacting with transferrin receptor, a crucial protein during erythropoiesis. However, the role of HFE in this process was never explored. We hypothesize that HFE modulates erythropoiesis by affecting dietary iron absorption and erythroid iron intake. To investigate this, we used Hfe-KO mice in conditions of altered dietary iron and erythropoiesis. We show that Hfe-KO mice can overcome phlebotomy-induced anemia more rapidly than wild-type mice (even when iron loaded). Second, we evaluated mice combining the hemochromatosis and β-thalassemia phenotypes. Our results suggest that lack of Hfe is advantageous in conditions of increased erythropoietic activity because of augmented iron mobilization driven by deficient hepcidin response. Lastly, we demonstrate that Hfe is expressed in erythroid cells and impairs iron uptake, whereas its absence exclusively from the hematopoietic compartment is sufficient to accelerate recovery from phlebotomy. In summary, we demonstrate that Hfe influences erythropoiesis by 2 distinct mechanisms: limiting hepcidin expression under conditions of simultaneous iron overload and stress erythropoiesis, and impairing transferrin-bound iron uptake by erythroid cells. Moreover, our results provide novel suggestions to improve the treatment of hemochromatosis.