The success of in vitro experiments depends largely on the quality of the cell culture media. Four synthetic media formulations, Dulbecco's Modified Minimum Essential Media (DMEM), RPMI 1640, Minimum Essential Media and its alpha modification (MEM), and Medium 199 (M199) are used in ~90% of published in vitro studies. We compared the levels of electrolytes and carbohydrates in these media formulations to physiological values in plasma and cerebrospinal fluid. The most commonly used media, DMEM and RPMI 1640, largely deviate from physiological levels of glucose. RPMI 1640 also contains extremely low levels of calcium, magnesium and sulfate, and 3-fold higher than normal phosphate. MEM and M199 have higher than physiological levels of chloride and sulfate. We performed a rapid literature review that demonstrated that the degree of deviation in media formulations from physiological levels is sufficient to induce changes in cell behavior, thus potentially compromising the predictive power of in vitro experiments.
- cell culture
- Copyright © 2016, American Journal of Physiology-Cell Physiology