MethoCult™ SF H4536

Serum-free methylcellulose-based medium with recombinant cytokines (without erythropoietin [EPO]) for human cells
MethoCult™ SF H4536

Serum-free methylcellulose-based medium with recombinant cytokines (without EPO) for human cells

100 mL
Catalog # 04536
686 USD


MethoCult™ SF H4536 is a complete serum-free 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™ SF H4536 is formulated to support the optimal growth of granulocyte-macrophage progenitor cells (CFU-GM, CFU-G and CFU-M) under defined serum-free conditions.

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
• Bovine serum albumin
• Recombinant human insulin
• Human transferrin (iron-saturated)
• 2-Mercaptoethanol
• Recombinant human stem cell factor (SCF)
• Recombinant human interleukin 3 (IL-3)
• Recombinant human interleukin 6 (IL-6)
• 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
Cell Culture, Colony Assay, Functional Assay
Area of Interest
Stem Cell Biology

Scientific Resources

Product Documentation

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MethoCult™ SF H4536
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MethoCult™ SF H4536
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Safety Data Sheet
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MethoCult™ SF H4536
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Educational Materials (5)

2018-2019 Hematopoietic Training Catalog
Hematopoietic Stem and Progenitor Cells - Products for Your Research
MethoCult™ Media for Performing Hematopoietic Colony-Forming Unit (CFU) Assays
Identification of Colonies Derived from Human Hematopoietic Progenitors
Mini Review
Hematopoietic Stem and Progenitor Cells (HSPCs): Isolation, Culture, and Assays

Frequently Asked Question

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

Publications (8)

American journal of physiology. Regulatory, integrative and comparative physiology 2006 DEC Regulation of progranulin expression in myeloid cells. Ong CHP et al.


Progranulin (pgrn; granulin-epithelin precursor, PC-cell-derived growth factor, or acrogranin) is a multifunctional secreted glycoprotein implicated in tumorigenesis, development, inflammation, and repair. It is highly expressed in macrophage and monocyte-derived dendritic cells. Here we investigate its regulation in myeloid cells. All-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) increased pgrn mRNA levels in myelomonocytic cells (CD34(+) progenitors; monoblastic U-937; monocytic THP-1; progranulocytic HL-60; macrophage RAW 264.7) but not in nonmyeloid cells tested. Interleukin-4 impaired basal expression of pgrn in U-937. Differentiation agents DMSO, and, in U-937 only, phorbol ester [phorbol 12-myristate,13-acetate (PMA)] elevated pgrn mRNA expression late in differentiation, suggestive of roles for pgrn in more mature terminally differentiated granulocyte/monocytes rather than during growth or differentiation. The response of pgrn mRNA to ATRA differs in U-937 and HL-60 lineages. In U-937, ATRA and chemical differentiation agents greatly increased pgrn mRNA stability, whereas, in HL-60, ATRA accelerated pgrn mRNA turnover. The initial upregulation of pgrn mRNA after stimulation with ATRA was independent of de novo protein synthesis in U-937 but not HL-60. Chemical blockade of nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) activation impaired ATRA-stimulated pgrn expression in HL-60 but not U-937, whereas in U-937 it blocked PMA-induced pgrn mRNA expression, suggestive of cell-specific roles for NF-kappaB in determining pgrn mRNA levels. We propose that: 1) ATRA regulates pgrn mRNA levels in myelomonocytic cells; 2) ATRA acts in a cell-specific manner involving the differential control of mRNA stability and differential requirement for NF-kappaB signaling; and 3) elevated pgrn mRNA expression is characteristic of more mature cells and does not stimulate differentiation.
Experimental hematology 2000 MAY The retroviral transduction of HOXC4 into human CD34(+) cells induces an in vitro expansion of clonogenic and early progenitors. Daga A et al.


OBJECTIVE: +HOX genes are expressed in the hematopoietic system and increasing data point to their involvement in the control of proliferation and/or differentiation. Genes belonging to the C cluster are preferentially expressed in developing and differentiated lymphoid lineages. However, recent studies demonstrated, by RT-PCR, that the HOXC4 gene is also actively transcribed in the most undifferentiated hematopoietic cells (CD34(+)38(low)) and in more mature myeloid and erythroid progenitors. We evaluated the expression of HOXC4 protein on human CD34(+) cells and the in vitro effect of its overexpression on proliferation and differentiation. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We assessed the expression of HOXC4 on human CD34(+) cells using a polyclonal antibody raised against the C-terminal portion of the protein expressed using the baculovirus system. Overexpression of HOXC4 in human CD34(+) cells was obtained by retroviral gene transfer; its effect on clonogenic (CFU-GM, BFU-E, and CFU-GEMM) and early progenitors (LTC-IC) was evaluated. RESULTS: The HOXC4 protein is indeed expressed in human CD34(+) cells, and its overexpression in human CD34(+) cells increases the proliferation potential of clonogenic and early progenitors. CFU-GM showed a median threefold expansion (range: 1.1-19.4; p textless 0.002) compared with control transduced with the vector alone. The increment of BFU-E was higher (median ninefold, range 2.5-35; p textless 0. 0009) and erythroid colonies presented a larger size with normal morphology. An even more marked effect was observed on LTC-IC (median 13, onefold; range 4.1-102.1, p textless 0.0001). CONCLUSION: We demonstrate that HOXC4 is expressed in CD34(+) cells and that its overexpression induces an in vitro expansion of committed as well as very early hematopoietic progenitors. The most striking effect was obtained on LTC-IC with an expansion of 13.1-fold. The enforced expression of HOXC4 induced a significant increase (p textless 0.009) in the number of erythroid colonies compared with CFU-GM, although without perturbing, at least in vitro, the maturation program of the cells. On the other hand, the effect of the gene overexpression did not induce any skewing in the colony types derived from the myeloid lineage.
Blood 2000 JAN High levels of lymphoid expression of enhanced green fluorescent protein in nonhuman primates transplanted with cytokine-mobilized peripheral blood CD34(+) cells. Donahue RE et al.


We have used a murine retrovirus vector containing an enhanced green fluorescent protein complimentary DNA (EGFP cDNA) to dynamically follow vector-expressing cells in the peripheral blood (PB) of transplanted rhesus macaques. Cytokine mobilized CD34(+) cells were transduced with an amphotropic vector that expressed EGFP and a dihydrofolate reductase cDNA under control of the murine stem cell virus promoter. The transduction protocol used the CH-296 recombinant human fibronectin fragment and relatively high concentrations of the flt-3 ligand and stem cell factor. Following transplantation of the transduced cells, up to 55% EGFP-expressing granulocytes were obtained in the peripheral circulation during the early posttransplant period. This level of myeloid marking, however, decreased to 0.1% or lower within 2 weeks. In contrast, EGFP expression in PB lymphocytes rose from 2%-5% shortly following transplantation to 10% or greater by week 5. After 10 weeks, the level of expression in PB lymphocytes continued to remain at 3%-5% as measured by both flow cytometry and Southern blot analysis, and EGFP expression was observed in CD4(+), CD8(+), CD20(+), and CD16/56(+) lymphocyte subsets. EGFP expression was only transiently detected in red blood cells and platelets soon after transplantation. Such sustained levels of lymphocyte marking may be therapeutic in a number of human gene therapy applications that require targeting of the lymphoid compartment. The transient appearance of EGFP(+) myeloid cells suggests that transduction of a lineage-restricted myeloid progenitor capable of short-term engraftment was obtained with this protocol. (Blood. 2000;95:445-452)
Experimental hematology 1999 NOV Comparison of in vitro drug-sensitivity of human granulocyte-macrophage progenitors from two different origins: umbilical cord blood and bone marrow. Gribaldo L et al.


Predictive in vitro hematotoxicity assays using human cells will provide estimation of tolerable level and aid considerably the development of agents with greater therapeutic activity and less toxicity. Human hematopoietic cells can be derived from three sources: human bone marrow by sternal or femoral aspiration, mobilized peripheral blood, or umbilical cord blood samples collected from placentas after deliveries. Because of the difficulties to have a continuous supply of bone marrow cells from normal human donors and the related ethical problems, we performed a study to compare the sensitivity of human bone marrow cells (h-BMC) and human cord blood cells (h-CBC) to chemicals in order to confirm if h-CBC can readily replace bone marrow cells in checking the sensitivity of GM-CFU progenitors to drugs as preliminarily reported in literature. Our results showed that the prediction of IC50 values in human model is quite similar by using h-BMC or h-CBC. On the contrary, the type of medium influenced in a significant way the ICs determination of some drugs.
Blood 1996 JAN Rapid and efficient selection of human hematopoietic cells expressing murine heat-stable antigen as an indicator of retroviral-mediated gene transfer. Conneally E et al.


Recombinant retroviruses offer many advantages for the genetic modification of human hematopoietic cells, although their use in clinical protocols has thus far given disappointing results. There is therefore an important need to develop new strategies that will allow effectively transduced primitive hematopoietic target populations to be both rapidly characterized and isolated free of residual nontransduced but biologically equivalent cells. To address this need, we constructed a murine stem cell virus (MSCV)-based retroviral vector containing the 228-bp coding sequence of the murine heat-stable antigen (HSA) and generated helper virus-free amphotropic MSCV-HSA producer cells by transfection of GP-env AM12 packaging cells. Light density and, in some cases, lineage marker-negative (lin-) normal human marrow or mobilized peripheral blood cells preactivated by exposure to interleukin-3 (IL-3), IL-6, and Steel factor in vitro for 48 hours were then infected by cocultivation with these MSCV-HSA producer cells for a further 48 hours in the presence of the same cytokines. Fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) analysis of the cells 24 hours later showed 21% to 41% (mean, 27%) of those that were still CD34+ to have acquired the ability to express HSA. The extent of gene transfer to erythroid and granulopoietic progenitors (burst-forming unit-erythroid and colony-forming unit-granulocyte-macrophage), as assessed by the ability of these cells to form colonies of mature progeny in the presence of normally toxic concentrations of G418, averaged 11% and 12%, respectively, in 6 experiments. These values could be increased to 100% and 77%, respectively, by prior isolation of the CD34+HSA+ cell fraction and were correspondingly decreased to an average of 2% and 5%, respectively, in the CD34+HSA- cells. In addition, the extent of gene transfer to long-term culture-initiating cells (LTC-IC) was assessed by G418 resistance. The average gene transfer to LTC-IC-derived colony-forming cells in the unsorted population was textless or = 7% in 4 experiments. FACS selection of the initially CD34+HSA+ cells increased this value to 86% and decreased it to 3% for the LTC-IC plated from the CD34+HSA- cells. Transfer of HSA gene expression to a phenotypically defined more primitive subpopulation of CD34+ cells, ie, those expressing little or no CD38, could also be shown by FACS analysis of infected populations 24 hours after infection. These findings underscore the potential use of retroviral vectors encoding HSA for the specific identification and non-toxic selection immediately after infection of retrovirally transduced populations of primitive human hematopoietic cells. In addition, such vectors should facilitate the subsequent tracking of their marked progeny using multiparameter flow cytometry.
Blood 1996 JAN Acceleration of hematopoietic reconstitution with a synthetic cytokine (SC-55494) after radiation-induced bone marrow aplasia. Farese AM et al.


The synthetic cytokine (Synthokine) SC-55494 is a high-affinity interleukin-3 (IL-3) receptor ligand that stimulates greater in vitro multilineage hematopoietic activity than native IL-3, while inducing no significant increase in inflammatory activity relative to native IL-3. The aim of this study was to investigate the in vivo hematopoietic response of rhesus monkeys receiving Synthokine after radiation-induced marrow aplasia. Administration schedule and dose of Synthokine were evaluated. All animals were total-body irradiated (TBI) with 700 cGy 60Co gamma radiation on day 0. Beginning on day 1, cohorts of animals (n = 5) received Synthokine subcutaneously (SC) twice daily with 25 micrograms/kg/d or 100 micrograms/kg/d for 23 days or 100 micrograms/kg/d for 14 days. Control animals (n = 9) received human serum albumin SC once daily at 15 micrograms/kg/d for 23 days. Complete blood counts were monitored for 60 days postirradiation and the durations of neutropenia (NEUT; absolute neutrophil count [ANC] textless 500/microL) and thrombocytopenia (THROM; platelet count textless 20,000/microL) were assessed. Synthokine significantly (P textless .05) reduced the duration of THROM versus the HSA-treated animals regardless of dose or protocol length. The most striking reduction was obtained in the animals receiving 100 micrograms/kg/d for 23 days (THROM = 3.5 v 12.5 days in HSA control animals). Although the duration of NEUT was not significantly altered, the depth of the nadir was significantly lessened in all animal cohorts treated with Synthokine regardless of dose versus schedule length. Bone marrow progenitor cell cultures indicated a beneficial effect of Synthokine on the recovery of granulocyte-macrophage colony-forming units that was significantly higher at day 24 post-TBI in both cohorts treated at 25 and 100 micrograms/kg/d for 23 days relative to the control animals. Plasma pharmacokinetic parameters were evaluated in both normal and irradiated animals. Pharmacokinetic analysis performed in irradiated animals after 1 week of treatment suggests an effect of repetitive Synthokine schedule and/or TBI on distribution and/or elimination of Synthokine. These data show that the Synthokine, SC55 94, administered therapeutically post-TBI, significantly enhanced platelet recovery and modulated neutrophil nadir and may be clinically useful in the treatment of the myeloablated host.
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