Dulbecco's Modified Eagle Medium (DMEM)

The image features a series of five identical square-shaped bottles containing a red liquid, “Tetramethylrhodamine Ethylene Diamine,” each capped with a white and black zigzag pattern.

Dulbecco’s Modified Eagle Medium (DMEM) is one of the most broadly suitable media for many adherent cell phenotypes among defined media for cell and tissue culture. This includes mammalian cells, insect cells, and plant cells. The original Eagle's Medium was developed in the 1950s and was formulated for the cultivation of chicken cells. However, the Dulbecco’s modification is an enhanced supplementary formulation that boosts select amino acid and vitamin content by up to fourfold when compared to the original Eagle’s medium. 

In cell culture, DMEM is used as a medium to support the growth of different types of cells, including primary cells, stem cells, and transformed cells. The modified version of DMEM can also be used for various research applications such as drug discovery, tissue engineering, and the study of cell signaling pathways. 

DMEM is not a complete medium on its own, as it is lacking necessary nutrients like proteins, lipids, or growth factors. Therefore, it must be supplemented with other components, such as fetal bovine serum (FBS), amino acids, and other nutrients to provide a complete and balanced growth environment for cells in culture.

Our selection includes a range of glucose concentrations, as well as formulations with and without L-glutamine. Products without the pH indicator phenol red are available for estrogen-sensitive applications, and our comprehensive offering includes convenient, ready-to-use liquid formats, as well as economical powdered media for easier storage and longer shelf life.


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DMEM – High Glucose vs. Low Glucose 

DMEM is available in various formulations, depending on the specific needs of the cells being cultured and the goals of the experimental work. The initial medium was formulated with a low glucose level of 1 g/L, suitable for growing cells that are sensitive to high glucose and may not thrive in media with high levels of this sugar. However, high glucose DMEM contains 4.5 g/L glucose and is typically used for the cultivation of cells that require high levels of glucose for optimal growth.

Serum-Free Media (SFM)

Serum is a component of many cell culture media and is often used to supplement the media with hormones, growth factors, and other nutrients that are required for cell growth and proliferation. However, serum can contain impurities and contaminants that can interfere with experimental results and its use may raise ethical concerns. 

Serum-free media are formulated free of animal serum or other animal-derived components. These media consist of appropriate nutritional and hormonal formulations that support the growth and proliferation of cells in culture. 

Some benefits of using serum-free media for cell culture are increased productivity, increased consistency, and easier purification and downstream processing. Serum-free media can be also formulated with specific combinations of growth factors for certain cell types and research goals. These media are suitable for a wide range of cell culture applications, including production of recombinant protein, study of cell growth and differentiation, investigation of cellular signaling pathways, production of viral vaccines, as well as drug discovery and development.

One such serum-free media is DMEM with Ham’s F-12, which is used in growth of mammalian cells including MDCK, glial cells, fibroblasts, human endothelial cells, and rat fibroblasts. The DMEM contains high concentrations of amino acids, glucose and vitamins and Ham’s F12 provides zinc, putrescine, hypoxanthine, and thymidine. Buffers like FBS and HEPES can be included to compensate for the loss of buffering capacity.

DMEM With and Without Phenol Red

Phenol red is a pH indicator that changes color at different pH values and is commonly added to DMEM at a concentration of 0.01-0.03%. It is useful for monitoring the pH of the media and ensuring that it remains within the appropriate range for cell growth and metabolism.

Some cells may be sensitive to phenol red or may be affected by its presence in the media, so DMEM without phenol red is also available. For some downstream applications like protein analysis or gene expression analysis, the presence of phenol red in the media could interfere. For some imaging techniques, such as fluorescence microscopy, using DMEM without phenol red may also be necessary to obtain accurate results. Phenol red absorbs light in the visible spectrum and can therefore interfere with the accuracy of these techniques. The choice between DMEM with and without phenol red depends on the specific needs and requirements of the cells being cultured and the goals of the experimental work.

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