Cell Culture Troubleshooting Guide

Cell culture has become one of the most fundamental techniques for modeling biological systems, and is of increasing importance in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors as well as an essential process in life science research labs. Though this technique is highly accessible, successful propagation of cells for stock expansion or modeling experiments can be plagued by contamination or other nonideal conditions that negatively impact cell viability. The common practice of sharing cells has led to recent evidence of cross-contamination of cell stocks whose identity was previously unquestioned. Despite challenges facing cell culturists, becoming armed with knowledge, protocols, and validated tools will resolve cell culture problems and lead to meaningful, reliable downstream data.

 
Cell Line Misidentification
Cell Line Misidentification
Be informed about common causes of cell line cross-contamination and how to
protect your work from its consequences.  
 
Cell Culture Contamination
Culture Contamination
Unwanted intruders may be the most
common confounder of successful cell
culture. Keep your cells free of both
biological and chemical contaminants
.

 

 
Poor Cell Growth
Poor Cell Growth
When cells seem viable but fail to expand,
learn what you can do to improve culture
conditions
before heading back to the
liquid nitrogen.

 

 
Cell Culture Precipitates
Precipitates in Culture
If it's not contamination, particulates in culture often have an inorganic explanation. Learn more about keeping media constituents in suspension.

 

 
Cell Attachment
Poor Cell Attachment
When adherent cultures don't stay that
way, know what to check and how to
restore cohesion in culture
.

 

 

 
Cell Clumping
Cell Clumping
Cells in suspension mimic in vivo conditions as singlets. What's hiding in media that may be causing cells to clump? Read more here.
 

 

 Additional Resources and Information