PneumaCult™-ALI Medium

Serum- and BPE-free medium for human airway epithelial cells cultured at the air-liquid interface or as airway organoids

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PneumaCult™-ALI Medium with 12 mm Transwell® Inserts

Medium and Transwell® inserts for human airway epithelial cells cultured at the air-liquid interface

1 Kit
Catalog #05021
466 USD

PneumaCult™-ALI Medium with 6.5 mm Transwell® Inserts

Medium and Transwell® inserts for human airway epithelial cells cultured at the air-liquid interface

1 Kit
Catalog #05022
466 USD

PneumaCult™-ALI Medium

Serum- and BPE-free medium for human airway epithelial cells cultured at the air-liquid interface or as airway organoids

1 Kit
Catalog #05001
197 USD

Required Products


PneumaCult™-ALI Medium (Catalog #05001) is a serum- and BPE-free medium for the culture of human airway epithelial cells at the air-liquid interface (ALI). Airway epithelial cells cultured in PneumaCult™-ALI Medium undergo extensive mucociliary differentiation to form a pseudostratified epithelium that exhibits morphological and functional characteristics similar to those of the human airway in vivo. PneumaCult™-ALI Medium is also available in a kit that includes 12 mm Transwell® inserts (Catalog #05021) or 6.5 mm Transwell® inserts (Catalog #05022).

Additionally, PneumaCult™-ALI Medium supports the generation of differentiated airway organoids in a 3D culture system. For a detailed protocol, refer to the Technical Bulletin: A Sphere Culture Method for Mucociliary Differentiation of Primary Human Bronchial Epithelial Cells (Document #28216), available at or contact us to request a copy.

Together, PneumaCult™-ALI Medium and PneumaCult™-Ex Plus Medium (Catalog #05040) constitute a fully integrated BPE-free culture system for in vitro human airway modeling. This robust and defined system is a valuable tool for basic respiratory research, toxicity studies, and drug development.
• HBECs cultured with PneumaCult™-ALI undergo extensive mucociliary differentiation to form a pseudostratified epithelium that closely resembles the human airway
• PneumaCult™-ALI is serum-free and BPE-free to minimize variability
  • PneumaCult™-ALI Basal Medium, 450 mL
  • PneumaCult™-ALI 10X Supplement, 50 mL
  • PneumaCult™-ALI Maintenance Supplement (100X), 5 x 1 mL
Specialized Media
Cell Type:
Airway Cells
Cell Culture; Differentiation; Maintenance; Organoid Culture; Spheroid Culture
Area of Interest:
Disease Modeling; Drug Discovery and Toxicity Testing; Epithelial Cell Biology
Serum-Free; Defined

Scientific Resources

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.

Research Area Workflow Stages for
Workflow Stages

Data and Publications


Figure 1. Overview of the PneumaCult™ Culture System

Expansion of human bronchial epithelial cells (HBECs) in submerged culture is performed with PneumaCult™-Ex Plus or PneumaCult™-Ex. During the early “Expansion Phase” of the ALI culture procedure, PneumaCult™-Ex Plus or PneumaCult™-Ex is applied to the apical and basal chambers. Upon reaching confluence, the culture is air-lifted by removing the culture medium from both chambers, and adding PneumaCult™-ALI to the basal chamber only. Differentiation into a pseudostratified mucociliary epithelium is obtained following 21-28 days of incubation and can be maintained for more than one year.

Figure 2. HBECs Cultured in PneumaCult™-Ex Successfully Differentiate into a Pseudostratified Mucociliary Epithelium with PneumaCult™-ALI

Early-passage (P1-3) HBECs cultured in PneumaCult™-Ex successfully differentiate when cultured at air-liquid interface with PneumaCult™-ALI for 28 days. H&E staining revealed the pseudostratifi ed structure of the epithelium with cilia present at the apical surface (A). Periodic acid-Schiff staining demonstrated the presence of goblet cells (B). The presence of ciliated and goblet cells was also demonstrated by immunofl uorescence staining of cilia marker acetylated (AC)-Tubulin (green; C) and the goblet cell marker Mucin5AC (green; D). Appropriate positioning of basal cells along the transwell insert was visualized by immunofl uorescence staining using the basal cell markers p75NTR (green) and p63 (red; E,F). A representative merged image indicates the apical cells, detected by DAPI alone, positioned along the epithelium and in close contact with the basal cells (detected by DAPI, p63 and p75NTR co-labeling) located along the insert (G).

Figure 3. Electrophysiological characterization of differentiated HBECs (P4) that were expanded in PneumaCult™-Ex Plus, PneumaCult™-Ex, and Bronchial Epithelial Growth Media

TEER (A) and representative characterization of the ion channel activities (B) for ALI cultures at 28 days post air-lift using HBECs expanded in PneumaCult™-Ex Plus, PneumaCult™-Ex, or Bronchial Epithelial Growth Media. Amiloride: ENaC inhibitor. IBMX and Forskolin: CFTR activators. Genistein: CFTR potentiator. CFTRinh-172: CFTR inhibitor. UTP: Calciumactivated Chloride channels (CaCCs) activator. All ALI differentiation cultures were performed using PneumaCult™-ALI.

Figure 4. Schematic of Sphere Culture Method Optimized for PneumaCult™-ALI Medium

Figure 5. Morphology of Bronchospheres Generated in PneumaCult™-ALI Medium

At Day 2, bronchospheres were small in size. By Day 17 the bronchospheres were larger in size with approximately 70% containing a visible lumen. By Day 28 almost all bronchospheres contained a lumen.


Cellular microbiology 2018 MAR

Modelling persistent Mycoplasma pneumoniae infection of human airway epithelium.

Prince OA et al.


Mycoplasma pneumoniae is a human respiratory tract pathogen causing acute and chronic airway disease states that can include long-term carriage and extrapulmonary spread. The mechanisms of persistence and migration beyond the conducting airways, however, remain poorly understood. We previously described an acute exposure model using normal human bronchial epithelium (NHBE) in air-liquid interface culture, showing that M. pneumoniae gliding motility is essential for initial colonisation and subsequent spread, including localisation to epithelial cell junctions. We extended those observations here, characterizing M. pneumoniae infection of NHBE for up to 4 weeks. Colonisation of the apical surface was followed by pericellular invasion of the basolateral compartment and migration across the underlying transwell membrane. Despite fluctuations in transepithelial electrical resistance and increased NHBE cell desquamation, barrier function remained largely intact. Desquamation was accompanied by epithelial remodelling that included cytoskeletal reorganisation and development of deep furrows in the epithelium. Finally, M. pneumoniae strains S1 and M129 differed with respect to invasion and histopathology, consistent with contrasting virulence in experimentally infected mice. In summary, this study reports pericellular invasion, NHBE cytoskeletal reorganisation, and tissue remodelling with persistent infection in a human airway epithelium model, providing clear insight into the likely route for extrapulmonary spread.
Human gene therapy 2018 JAN

Transducing airway basal cells with a helper-dependent adenoviral vector for lung gene therapy.

Cao H et al.


A major challenge in developing gene-based therapies for airway diseases such as cystic fibrosis (CF) is sustaining therapeutic levels of transgene expression over time. This is largely due to airway epithelial cell turnover and the host immunogenicity to gene delivery vectors. Modern gene editing tools and delivery vehicles hold great potential for overcoming the challenge. There is currently not much known about how to deliver genes into airway stem cells, of which basal cells are the major type in human airways. In this study, helper-dependent adenoviral (HD-Ad) vectors were delivered to mouse and pig airways via intranasal delivery, and direct bronchoscopic instillation, respectively. Vector transduction was assessed by immunostaining of lung tissue sections, which revealed that airway basal cells of mice and pigs can be targeted in vivo. In addition, efficient transduction of primary human airway basal cells was verified with an HD-Ad vector expressing GFP. Furthermore, we successfully delivered the human CFTR gene to airway basal cells from CF patients, and demonstrated restoration of CFTR channel activity following cell differentiation in air-liquid interface culture. Our results provide a strong rationale for utilizing HD-Ad vectors to target airway basal cells for permanent gene correction of genetic airway diseases.
American journal of physiology. Lung cellular and molecular physiology 2017 NOV

Over-production of growth differentiation factor 15 (GDF15) promotes human rhinovirus infection and virus-induced inflammation in the lung.

Wu Q et al.


Human rhinovirus (HRV) is the most common virus contributing to acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) nearly year-round, but the mechanisms have not been well elucidated. Recent clinical studies suggest that high levels of growth differentiation factor 15 (GDF15) protein in the blood are associated with an increased yearly rate of all-cause COPD exacerbations. Therefore, in the current study, we investigated whether GDF15 promotes HRV infection and virus-induced lung inflammation. We first examined the role of GDF15 in regulating host defense and HRV-induced inflammation using human GDF15 transgenic mice and cultured human GDF15 transgenic mouse tracheal epithelial cells. Next, we determined the effect of GDF15 on viral replication, antiviral responses, and inflammation in human airway epithelial cells with GDF15 knockdown and HRV infection. Finally, we explored the signaling pathways involved in airway epithelial responses to HRV infection in the context of GDF15. Human GDF15 protein over-expression in mice led to exaggerated inflammatory responses to HRV, increased infectious particle release, and decreased IFN-λ2/3 (IL-28A/B) mRNA expression in the lung. Moreover, GDF15 facilitated HRV replication and inflammation via inhibiting IFN-λ1/IL-29 protein production in human airway epithelial cells. Lastly, Smad1 cooperated with interferon regulatory factor 7 (IRF7) to regulate airway epithelial responses to HRV infection partly via GDF15 signaling. Our results reveal a novel function of GDF15 in promoting lung HRV infection and virus-induced inflammation, which may be a new mechanism for the increased susceptibility and severity of respiratory viral (i.e., HRV) infection in cigarette smoke-exposed airways with GDF15 over-production.
Journal of virology 2017 MAY

Broadly Reactive Anti-Respiratory Syncytial Virus G Antibodies from Exposed Individuals Effectively Inhibit Infection of Primary Airway Epithelial Cells.

Cortjens B et al.


Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) causes severe respiratory disease in young children. Antibodies specific for the RSV prefusion F protein have guided RSV vaccine research, and in human serum, these antibodies contribute to<90% of the neutralization response; however, detailed insight into the composition of the human B cell repertoire against RSV is still largely unknown. In order to study the B cell repertoire of three healthy donors for specificity against RSV, CD27+memory B cells were isolated and immortalized using BCL6 and Bcl-xL. Of the circulating memory B cells, 0.35% recognized RSV-A2-infected cells, of which 59% were IgA-expressing cells and 41% were IgG-expressing cells. When we generated monoclonal B cells selected for high binding to RSV-infected cells, 44.5% of IgG-expressing B cells and 56% of IgA-expressing B cells reacted to the F protein, while, unexpectedly, 41.5% of IgG-expressing B cells and 44% of IgA expressing B cells reacted to the G protein. Analysis of the G-specific antibodies revealed that 4 different domains on the G protein were recognized. These epitopes predicted cross-reactivity between RSV strain A (RSV-A) and RSV-B and matched the potency of antibodies to neutralize RSV in HEp-2 cells and in primary epithelial cell cultures. G-specific antibodies were also able to induce antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity and antibody-dependent cellular phagocytosis of RSV-A2-infected cells. However, these processes did not seem to depend on a specific epitope. In conclusion, healthy adults harbor a diverse repertoire of RSV glycoprotein-specific antibodies with a broad range of effector functions that likely play an important role in antiviral immunity.IMPORTANCEHuman RSV remains the most common cause of severe lower respiratory tract disease in premature babies, young infants, the elderly, and immunocompromised patients and plays an important role in asthma exacerbations. In developing countries, RSV lower respiratory tract disease has a high mortality. Without an effective vaccine, only passive immunization with palivizumab is approved for prophylactic treatment. However, highly potent RSV-specific monoclonal antibodies could potentially serve as a therapeutic treatment and contribute to disease control and mortality reduction. In addition, these antibodies could guide further vaccine development. In this study, we isolated and characterized several novel antibodies directed at the RSV G protein. This information can add to our understanding and treatment of RSV disease.
Toxicological sciences : an official journal of the Society of Toxicology 2017 MAR

Evaluating the Toxicity of Cigarette Whole Smoke Solutions in an Air-Liquid-Interface Human In Vitro Airway Tissue Model.

Cao X et al.


Exposure to cigarette smoke causes a multitude of pathological changes leading to tissue damage and disease. Quantifying such changes in highly differentiated in vitro human tissue models may assist in evaluating the toxicity of tobacco products. In this methods development study, well-differentiated human air-liquid-interface (ALI) in vitro airway tissue models were used to assess toxicological endpoints relevant to tobacco smoke exposure. Whole mainstream smoke solutions (WSSs) were prepared from 2 commercial cigarettes (R60 and S60) that differ in smoke constituents when machine-smoked under International Organization for Standardization conditions. The airway tissue models were exposed apically to WSSs 4-h per day for 1-5 days. Cytotoxicity, tissue barrier integrity, oxidative stress, mucin secretion, and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) excretion were measured. The treatments were not cytotoxic and had marginal effects on tissue barrier properties; however, other endpoints responded in time- and dose-dependent manners, with the R60 resulting in higher levels of response than the S60 for many endpoints. Based on the lowest effect dose, differences in response to the WSSs were observed for mucin induction and MMP secretion. Mitigation of mucin induction by cotreatment of cultures with N-acetylcysteine suggests that oxidative stress contributes to mucus hypersecretion. Overall, these preliminary results suggest that quantifying disease-relevant endpoints using ALI airway models is a potential tool for tobacco product toxicity evaluation. Additional research using tobacco samples generated under smoking machine conditions that more closely approximate human smoking patterns will inform further methods development.
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