Cell Dissociation Reagents

Brightfield microscopy of the progress of cell detachment with dissociation reagents

In order to replicate their native environments, adherent cell phenotypes (such as epithelial cells) are typically seeded onto tissue culture-treated surfaces, to which they attach in order to survive and proliferate. For propagation, enumeration, and downstream analysis, adherent cells and cells from solid tissues must be dissociated to create suspensions. Single-cell suspensions are required for cell counting, reseeding for subculture, and cellular assays/analysis.

Dissociation reagents include naturally-occurring enzymes, gentler non-enzymatic alternatives, or may work by chelating calcium to prevent cadherins from attaching, releasing cells from surfaces and one another. Cell dissociation reagents may be specific for extracellular matrix (ECM) substrates.

Our comprehensive collection of cell dissociation reagents includes:

StableCell™ trypsin cell detachment reagent maintains stable activity at room temperature

Trypsin, Recombinant Trypsin, StableCell™ Trypsin

Trypsin is a serine protease and one of the most common detachment enzymes used with adherent cell lines and for tissue dissociation. Crude trypsin preparations have typically been found to be more efficient for both applications, but incubating cells with a high trypsin concentration or for too long risks damage to cell membranes and can kill the cells. Cultured cells are most commonly removed from the culture substrate by treatment with trypsin in combination with EDTA (ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid), in which the concentration of trypsin can range from 0.025% to 0.5%.

StableCell™ Trypsin solutions were developed to perform cell detachment as standard trypsin solutions do, without the need to aliquot, freeze, and thaw the trypsin. This saves significant time by eliminating the need to aliquot and wait for trypsin to thaw for cell passaging or experiments and frees precious space in lab freezers. Our StableCell™ Trypsin solutions are recommended for storage at 2-8 °C, but our studies indicate that StableCell™ Trypsin retains >90% activity and performance even when stored at 37 °C.

Collagenase and Dispase

Collagenase cleaves the peptide bonds in native, triple-helical collagen. Because of its unique ability to hydrolyze native collagen, it is widely used in isolation of cells from animal tissue. Collagenases occur in a variety of microorganisms and in many different animal cells. The most potent is the “crude” collagenase secreted by the anaerobic bacterium Clostridium histolyticum.

Dispases are rapid, effective, gentle, and neutral proteases that can separate intact epithelial sheets in culture from the substratum. Dispase I has been used to digest lung tissue, and to process cells for flow staining, as well as for murine CD4 T cell isolation.

Dissociation Reagents for Specialty Cultures

For dissociating or detaching cell and tissue types that may require gentler enzymatic activity, Accutase® and Accumax™ solutions use efficient enzymes at lower concentration. These solutions:

  • Efficiently detach embryonic and neuronal stem cells
  • Gently detach to preserve cell viability & can enhance cell yield
  • Do not require neutralization


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