MethoCult™ H4034 Optimum

Methylcellulose-based medium with recombinant cytokines for human cells

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Methylcellulose-based medium with recombinant cytokines for human cells
From: 521 CAD


MethoCult™ H4034 Optimum (MethoCult™ GF H4034) is a 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. MethoCult™ H4034 Optimum has been formulated to support optimal growth of erythroid progenitor cells (BFU-E and CFU-E), granulocyte-macrophage progenitor cells (CFU-GM, CFU-G and CFU-M), and multipotential granulocyte, erythroid, macrophage, megakaryocyte progenitor cells (CFU-GEMM). The inclusion of G-CSF in Optimum formulations improves discrimination of myeloid colony subtypes. This formulation is compatible with STEMvision™ software for automated colony counting.
• Methylcellulose in Iscove's MDM
• Fetal bovine serum
• Bovine serum albumin
• 2-Mercaptoethanol
• Recombinant human stem cell factor (SCF)
• Recombinant human interleukin 3 (IL-3)
• Recombinant human erythropoietin (EPO)
• Recombinant human granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF)
• Recombinant human granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF)
• 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:
Drug Discovery and Toxicity Testing; Stem Cell Biology

Technical 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

Examples of Colonies Derived from CFU-GM in MethoCult™ H4034 Optimum

Figure 2. Examples of Colonies Derived from CFU-GM in MethoCult™ H4034 Optimum

Examples of Colonies Derived from BFU-E in MethoCult™ H4034 Optimum

Figure 3. Examples of Colonies Derived from BFU-E in MethoCult™ H4034 Optimum


Cancer research 2007 February

A single-chain Fv diabody against human leukocyte antigen-A molecules specifically induces myeloma cell death in the bone marrow environment.

Sekimoto E et al.


Cross-linked human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I molecules have been shown to mediate cell death in neoplastic lymphoid cells. However, clinical application of an anti-HLA class I antibody is limited by possible side effects due to widespread expression of HLA class I molecules in normal tissues. To reduce the unwanted Fc-mediated functions of the therapeutic antibody, we have developed a recombinant single-chain Fv diabody (2D7-DB) specific to the alpha2 domain of HLA-A. Here, we show that 2D7-DB specifically induces multiple myeloma cell death in the bone marrow environment. Both multiple myeloma cell lines and primary multiple myeloma cells expressed HLA-A at higher levels than normal myeloid cells, lymphocytes, or hematopoietic stem cells. 2D7-DB rapidly induced Rho activation and robust actin aggregation that led to caspase-independent death in multiple myeloma cells. This cell death was completely blocked by Rho GTPase inhibitors, suggesting that Rho-induced actin aggregation is crucial for mediating multiple myeloma cell death. Conversely, 2D7-DB neither triggered Rho-mediated actin aggregation nor induced cell death in normal bone marrow cells despite the expression of HLA-A. Treatment with IFNs, melphalan, or bortezomib enhanced multiple myeloma cell death induced by 2D7-DB. Furthermore, administration of 2D7-DB resulted in significant tumor regression in a xenograft model of human multiple myeloma. These results indicate that 2D7-DB acts on multiple myeloma cells differently from other bone marrow cells and thus provide the basis for a novel HLA class I-targeting therapy against multiple myeloma.
Blood 2006 March

Reconstitution of the functional human hematopoietic microenvironment derived from human mesenchymal stem cells in the murine bone marrow compartment.

Muguruma Y et al.


Hematopoiesis is maintained by specific interactions between both hematopoietic and nonhematopoietic cells. Whereas hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) have been extensively studied both in vitro and in vivo, little is known about the in vivo characteristics of stem cells of the nonhematopoietic component, known as mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). Here we have visualized and characterized human MSCs in vivo following intramedullary transplantation of enhanced green fluorescent protein-marked human MSCs (eGFP-MSCs) into the bone marrow (BM) of nonobese diabetic/severe combined immunodeficiency (NOD/SCID) mice. Between 4 to 10 weeks after transplantation, eGFP-MSCs that engrafted in murine BM integrated into the hematopoietic microenvironment (HME) of the host mouse. They differentiated into pericytes, myofibroblasts, BM stromal cells, osteocytes in bone, bone-lining osteoblasts, and endothelial cells, which constituted the functional components of the BM HME. The presence of human MSCs in murine BM resulted in an increase in functionally and phenotypically primitive human hematopoietic cells. Human MSC-derived cells that reconstituted the HME appeared to contribute to the maintenance of human hematopoiesis by actively interacting with primitive human hematopoietic cells.
Stem cells (Dayton, Ohio) 2003 January

Engraftment capacity of umbilical cord blood cells processed by either whole blood preparation or filtration.

Eichler H et al.


Umbilical cord blood (UCB) preparation needs to be optimized in order to develop more simplified procedures for volume reduction, as well as to reduce the amount of contaminating cells within the final stem cell transplant. We evaluated a novel filter device (StemQuick((TM))E) and compared it with our routine buffy coat (BC) preparation procedure for the enrichment of hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs). Two groups of single or pooled UCB units were filtered (each n = 6), or equally divided in two halves and processed by filtration and BC preparation in parallel (n = 10). The engraftment capacity of UCB samples processed by whole blood (WB) preparation was compared with paired samples processed by filtration in the nonobese diabetic/severe combined immunodeficient (NOD/SCID) mouse animal model. Filtration of UCB units in the two groups with a mean volume of 87.8 and 120.7 ml, respectively, and nucleated cell (NC) content of 9.7 and 23.8 x 10(8) resulted in a sufficient mean cell recovery for mononucleated cells ([MNCs] 74.2%-77.5%), CD34(+) cells (76.3%-79.0%), and colony-forming cells (64.1%-86.3%). Moreover, we detected a relevant depletion of the transplants for RBCs (89.2%-90.0%) and platelets ([PLTs] 77.5%-86.1%). In contrast, the mean depletion rate using BC processing proved to be significantly different for PLTs (10%, p = 0.03) and RBCs (39.6%, p < 0.01). The NC composition showed a highly significant increase in MNCs and a decrease in granulocytes after filtration (p < 0.01), compared with a less significant MNC increase in the BC group (p < 0.05). For mice transplanted with WB-derived progenitors, we observed a mean of 15.3% +/- 15.5% of human CD45(+) cells within the BM compared with 19.9% +/- 16.8% for mice transplanted with filter samples (p = 0.03). The mean percentage of human CD34(+) cells was 4.2% +/- 3.1% for WB samples and 4.5% +/- 3.2% for filter samples (p = 0.68). As the data of NOD/SCID mice transplantation demonstrated a significant engraftment capacity of HPCs processed by filtration, no negative effect on the engraftment potential of filtered UCB cells versus non-volume-reduced cells from WB transplants was found. The StemQuick((TM))E filter devices proved to be a useful tool for Good Manufacturing Practices conform enrichment of HPCs and MNCs out of UCB. Filtration enables a quick and standardized preparation of a volume-reduced UCB transplant, including a partial depletion of granulocytes, RBCs, and PLTs without the need for centrifugation. Therefore, it seems very probable that filter-processed UCB transplants will also result in sufficient hematopoietic reconstitution in humans.
Blood 2003 January

Ex vivo expansion of human umbilical cord hematopoietic progenitor cells using a coculture system with human telomerase catalytic subunit (hTERT)-transfected human stromal cells.

Kawano Y et al.


We developed a new human stromal cell line that could expand human hematopoietic progenitor/stem cells. Primary human bone marrow stromal cells were infected with retrovirus containing the human telomerase catalytic subunit (hTERT) gene, resulting in increased population doubling and the acquisition of cell immortalization. Characteristics of the hTERT-transduced stromal (hTERT-stromal) cells were identical with those of the primary stromal cells in terms of morphologic appearance and expression of surface antigens. Human cord blood (CB) CD34(+) cells were expanded by coculture with primary stromal or hTERT-stromal cells in the presence of stem cell factor, thrombopoietin, and Flk-2/Flt-3 ligand under serum-free condition. The degree of expansion of CD34(+) cells and total number of colony-forming units in culture (CFU-Cs) after 2 weeks' coculture with the hTERT-stromal cells were nearly the same as those after 2 weeks' coculture with primary stromal cells (CD34(+) cells, 118-fold +/- 8-fold versus 117-fold +/- 13-fold; CFU-Cs, 71-fold +/- 5-fold versus 67-fold +/- 5-fold of initial cell number). CB expansion on hTERT-stromal cells occurred at a similar rate through 7 weeks. In contrast, the rate of CB expansion on primary stromal cells had drastically declined at 7 weeks. In nonobese diabetic/severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mice, the degree of engraftment of SCID-repopulating cells that had been cocultured with hTERT-stromal cells for 4 weeks was significantly higher than that of precocultured CB cells. These results indicate that this hTERT-stromal cell line could be useful for ex vivo expansion of hematopoietic progenitor/stem cells and for analyzing the microenvironment of human bone marrow.
The Journal of cell biology 2002 May

Identification of myogenic-endothelial progenitor cells in the interstitial spaces of skeletal muscle.

Tamaki T et al.


Putative myogenic and endothelial (myo-endothelial) cell progenitors were identified in the interstitial spaces of murine skeletal muscle by immunohistochemistry and immunoelectron microscopy using CD34 antigen. Enzymatically isolated cells were characterized by fluorescence-activated cell sorting on the basis of cell surface antigen expression, and were sorted as a CD34+ and CD45- fraction. Cells in this fraction were approximately 94% positive for Sca-1, and mostly negative (<3% positive) for CD14, 31, 49, 144, c-kit, and FLK-1. The CD34+/45- cells formed colonies in clonal cell cultures and colony-forming units displayed the potential to differentiate into adipocytes, endothelial, and myogenic cells. The CD34+/45- cells fully differentiated into vascular endothelial cells and skeletal muscle fibers in vivo after transplantation. Immediately after sorting, CD34+/45- cells expressed only c-met mRNA, and did not express any other myogenic cell-related markers such as MyoD, myf-5, myf-6, myogenin, M-cadherin, Pax-3, and Pax-7. However, after 3 d of culture, these cells expressed mRNA for all myogenic markers. CD34+/45- cells were distinct from satellite cells, as they expressed Bcrp1/ABCG2 gene mRNA (Zhou et al., 2001). These findings suggest that myo-endothelial progenitors reside in the interstitial spaces of mammalian skeletal muscles, and that they can potentially contribute to postnatal skeletal muscle growth.
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