Starter Kit for MethoCult™ H4034 Optimum

Complete kit for hematopoietic CFU assays

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Starter Kit for MethoCult™ H4034 Optimum

Complete kit for hematopoietic CFU assays

1 Kit
Catalog #04064
1,065 USD


The Starter Kit for MethoCult™ H4034 Optimum (MethoCult™ GF H4034) is recommended for laboratories in the initial stages of establishing procedures for assessing human hematopoietic progenitor cells using colony-forming unit (CFU) assays. These products support the growth of clonogenic hematopoietic progenitor cells from human bone marrow, peripheral blood, cord blood, leukapheresis products and purified progenitor-enriched cells. H4034 supports the growth of erythroid progenitors (BFU-E and CFU-E), granulocyte-macrophage progenitors (CFU-GM, CFU-G and CFU-M) and multi-potential granulocyte, erythroid, macrophage, megakaryocyte progenitors (CFU-GEMM). Each kit contains instructional materials in addition to all reagents and materials necessary to perform 24 duplicate assays.

Browse our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on performing the CFU assay and explore its utility as part of the cell therapy workflow.
  • Starter Kit for MethoCult™ H4034 Optimum (Catalog #04064)
    • MethoCult™ H4034 Optimum, 24 x 3 mL tubes (Catalog #04044)
    • Iscove's Modified Dulbecco's Medium (IMDM) with 2% Fetal Bovine Serum, 100 mL (Catalog #07700)
    • Ammonium Chloride Solution, 100 mL (Catalog #07800)
    • 35 mm Culture Dishes, 10/pack (Catalog #27100)
    • 60 mm Gridded Scoring Dishes, 20/pack (Catalog #100-0085)
    • Blunt-end Needles, 30/bag (Catalog #28130)
    • 3 cc Syringes, 30/bag (Catalog #28230)
    • Colony Atlas (Catalog #28700)
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

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


Blood 2003 JAN

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.
Stem cells (Dayton, Ohio) 2003 JAN

Differences between peripheral blood and cord blood in the kinetics of lineage-restricted hematopoietic cells: implications for delayed platelet recovery following cord blood transplantation.

Yasui K et al.


Cord blood (CB) cells are a useful source of hematopoietic cells for transplantation. The hematopoietic activities of CB cells are different from those of bone marrow and peripheral blood (PB) cells. Platelet recovery is significantly slower after transplantation with CB cells than with cells from other sources. However, the cellular mechanisms underlying these differences have not been elucidated. We compared the surface marker expression profiles of PB and CB hematopoietic cells. We focused on two surface markers of hematopoietic cell immaturity, i.e., CD34 and AC133. In addition to differences in surface marker expression, the PB and CB cells showed nonidentical differentiation pathways from AC133(+)CD34(+) (immature) hematopoietic cells to terminally differentiated cells. The majority of the AC133(+)CD34(+) PB cells initially lost AC133 expression and eventually became AC133(-)CD34(-) cells. In contrast, the AC133(+)CD34(+) CB cells did not go through the intermediate AC133(-)CD34(+) stage and lost both markers simultaneously. Meanwhile, the vast majority of megakaryocyte progenitors were of the AC133(-)CD34(+) phenotype. We conclude that the delayed recovery of platelets after CB transplantation is due to both subpopulation distribution and the process of differentiation from AC133(+)CD34(+) cells.
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)
Stem cells (Dayton, Ohio) 2000 JAN

Murine stromal cell line HESS-5 maintains reconstituting ability of Ex vivo-generated hematopoietic stem cells from human bone marrow and cytokine-mobilized peripheral blood.

Shimakura Y et al.


Human bone marrow (BM) or mobilized peripheral blood (mPB) CD34(+) cells have been shown to loose their stem cell quality during culture period more easily than those from cord blood (CB). We previously reported that human umbilical CB stem cells could effectively be expanded in the presence of human recombinant cytokines and a newly established murine bone marrow stromal cell line HESS-5. In this study we assessed the efficacy of this xenogeneic coculture system using human BM and mPB CD34(+) cells as materials. We measured the generation of CD34(+)CD38(-) cells and colony-forming units, and assessed severe-combined immunodeficient mouse-repopulating cell (SRC) activity using cells five days after serum-free cytokine-containing culture in the presence or the absence of a direct contact with HESS-5 cells. As compared with the stroma-free culture, the xenogeneic coculture was significantly superior on expansion of CD34(+)CD38(-) cells and colony-forming cells and on maintenance of SRC activity. The PKH26 study demonstrated that cell division was promoted faster in cells cocultured with HESS-5 cells than in cells cultured without HESS-5 cells. These results indicate that HESS-5 supports rapid generation of primitive progenitor cells (PPC) and maintains reconstituting ability of newly generated stem cells during ex vivo culture irrespective of the source of samples. This xenogeneic coculture system will be useful for ex vivo manipulation such as gene transduction to promote cell division and the generation of PPC and to prevent loss of stem cell quality.
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.