Improve your cell culture with Gibco media supplements 

Media supplements are often a vital component of successful cell culture experiments. There are many advantages of using cell culture supplements including customizing the growth conditions of your cells, improving cell viability and growth, and keeping cells healthier longer.

Gibco cell culture media supplements help ensure the reliability and consistency of your cell culture and research results.

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Growth factors & cytokines

Growth factors and cytokines are important for the proliferation and development of cells in culture. Gibco PeproTech recombinant growth factors and cytokines offer quality and consistency to support robust cell culture and disease models.

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Cell culture buffers

It is important to provide a buffer to cells to protect against changes in pH. This essential buffering is achieved by including HEPES or sodium bicarbonate based buffer in your cell culture media.

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Other media supplements

We produce an extensive selection of cell culture media supplements to support of the growth and maintenance of your cells. Choose Gibco media supplements to customize your cell culture.

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Additional media supplements

Cell culture buffers

Bottle containing Sodium Bicarbonate 7.5% solution

Sodium bicarbonate used in cell culture

Sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) is a common buffer used in cell culture for maintaining the pH of the medium in the presence of 4–10% carbon dioxide. In addition, sodium bicarbonate provides some nutritional benefits and is rarely toxic to cells.

The final concentration of sodium bicarbonate in media depends on both the formulation of the media and carbon dioxide concentration of the incubator. Different CO2 concentrations are recommended depending on the concentration of sodium bicarbonate used. If the media formulation contains:

  • NaHCO3 (g/L) <1.5, it needs CO2 at 4%
  • NaHCO3 (g/L) 1.5–2.2, it needs CO2 at 5%
  • NaHCO3 (g/L) 2.2–3.4, it needs CO2 at 7%
  • NaHCO3 (g/L) >3.5, it needs CO2 at 10%
Bottle containing Gibco HEPES buffer

HEPES buffer used in cell culture

Although bicarbonate is the most commonly used cell culture buffer due to its nutritional benefits, the buffering capacity of bicarbonate is reduced at physiological pH compared to HEPES buffer. HEPES has no nutritional benefits to cells but can be added to buffer cell culture media at pH 7.2 through 7.6. Therefore, the addition of HEPES can allow for extra buffering capacity when cell culture requires extended periods of manipulation outside of a CO2 incubator.

Gibco HEPES (4-(2-hydroxyethyl)-1-piperazineethanesulfonic acid) is a zwitterionic organic chemical buffering agent and is categorized as a "Good" buffer which derives from a set of buffers described by Dr. Norman Good and his colleagues in 1966 (Good, et al. Biochemistry 1966). 

"Good buffers" such as HEPES are attributed with the following characteristics:

  • pKa values between 6.0 and 8.0
  • High solubility
  • Membrane impermeability
  • Limited effect on biochemical reactions
  • Very low visible and ultraviolet light absorbance
  • Chemically and enzymatically stable
  • Easy to prepare

The level of HEPES in cell culture media may vary from 10 mM to 25 mM. In Gibco DMEM, HEPES is present at a concentration of 25 mM. However, in Gibco DMEM/F-12, it is found at a concentration of 15 mM. The most commonly used concentration is 25 mM. 

Other cell culture supplements 


The widely used chemical compound 2-mercaptoethanol has the formula HOCH2CH2SH. It is a hybrid of ethylene glycol and is used to reduce disulfide bonds. By scavenging hydroxyl radicals (amongst others), it can act as a biological antioxidant. The hydroxyl group confers solubility in water and lowers volatility.

Product photo of Gibco MEM NEAA

Amino acid solutions 

To prolong the viability of cells in culture and stimulate growth, supplements of amino acids can be added to media. In addition, adding an amino acid supplement provides nutrients and reduces the biosynthetic burden on cells in vitro. Prepared in distilled water, the non-essential amino acids in this solution are 100X the concentration in a MEM-alpha medium.

HAT supplement 

HAT supplement is a liquid mixture of sodium hypoxanthine, aminopterin, and thymidine. After dilution, HAT is suitable for use as a post-fusion selective medium to eliminate unfused or self-fused HGPRT-myeloma cells. Hypoxanthine and thymidine provide preformed purines and pyrimidines for DNA synthesis by hybridomas via the salvage pathway that utilizes HGPRT—contributed by the fused spleen cell. The folic acid antagonist, aminopterin, inhibits the de novo nucleoside biosynthesis pathway.

Product photo of Gibco HT Supplement

HT supplement 

HT supplement liquid is a mixture of sodium hypoxanthine and thymidine. After dilution, HT supplement is suitable for use as a rescue medium. HT supplement provides preformed purines and pyrimidines to overcome the effects of residual intracellular aminopterin. Following reestablishment of the de novo biosynthesis pathway, HT supplementation can be discontinued.

MEM vitamin solution 

Adding MEM vitamin solution to media can enhance cell growth and viability in culture and reduce biosynthetic burden on cells in vitro. Prepared in 0.85% saline, the vitamins in this solution are 100X the concentration in a standard MEM medium. 

Product photo of Gibco Sodium Pyruvate

Sodium pyruvate 

Sodium pyruvate is often supplemented into cell culture media as an additional source of carbon. Gibco sodium pyruvate for cell culture is supplied as a 100 mM (100X) solution with a final concentration of 11,004 mg/L.


Phytohemagglutinin is a solution produced from a crude extract of the red kidney bean Phaseolus vulgaris. When applied at certain concentrations, this supplement can induce blastogenesis in various mammalian mononuclear cells in vitro.

cell culture media icon GMP manufacturing

Gibco cell culture products are manufactured in facilities compliant with current good manufacturing practices (GMP) and adhere to a robust quality management system, helping to ensure the consistency, reliability, and high quality you can rely on.

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We are committed to delivering products that serve the research needs of our customers, while striving to develop them in a way that minimizes our use of natural resources and our impact on the environment.

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Cell Culture & Transfection Learning Center
Access cell culture and transfection educational resources for better experiment planning and execution.

Gibco Cell Culture Basics
Learn the fundamentals of cell culture for achieving consistent results, including laboratory setup, safety, and aseptic techniques.

Media Formulation Tool
Find the right Gibco media formulation for DMEM, DMEM/F-12, MEM, and RPMI-1640 media.

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Cell Culture & Transfection Support Center
Find technical support recommendations for your cell culture and transfection workflows, including tips for experimental setup and in-depth troubleshooting help.

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