Adherent Cell Culture vs. Suspension Cell Culture
There are two basic systems for growing cells in culture, as monolayers on an artificial substrate (i.e., adherent culture) or free-floating in the culture medium (suspension culture).
Characteristics of Each Culture Type
Cells that are cultured in suspension can be maintained in culture flasks that are not tissue-culture treated, but as the culture volume to surface area is increased beyond which adequate gas exchange is hindered (usually 0.2 – 0.5 mL/cm2), the medium requires agitation. This agitation is usually achieved with a magnetic stirrer or rotating spinner flasks.
|Adherent Cell Culture||Suspension Cell Culture|
|Appropriate for most cell types, including primary cultures||Appropriate for cells adapted to suspension culture and a few other cell lines that are nonadhesive (e.g., hematopoietic)|
|Requires periodic passaging, but allows easy visual inspection under inverted microscope||Easier to passage, but requires daily cell counts and viability determination to follow growth patterns; culture can be diluted to stimulate growth|
|Cells are dissociated enzymatically (e.g., TrypLE™ Express, trypsin) or mechanically||Does not require enzymatic or mechanical dissociation|
|Growth is limited by surface area, which may limit product yields||Growth is limited by concentration of cells in the medium, which allows easy scale-up|
|Requires tissue-culture treated vessel||Can be maintained in culture vessels that are not tissue-culture treated, but requires agitation (i.e., shaking or stirring) for adequate gas exchange|
|Used for cytology, harvesting products continuously, and many research applications||Used for bulk protein production, batch harvesting, and many research applications|