Balanced salt solutions maintain the structural and physiological integrity of cells in vitro. Gibco Balanced Salt Solutions are isotonic buffer systems that help keep mammalian cells within their physiological pH range and maintain high viability during short-term incubations.
A balanced salt solution’s essential function is to maintain pH and osmotic balance as well as provide your cells with water and essential inorganic ions. Gibco Balanced Salt Solutions are available in many different formulations and formats.
Please see below for the common formulation components found in balanced salt solutions and how they may impact your cell culture.
Shop all balanced salt solutions Compare PBS & DPBS Compare HBSS & EBSS
|With Ca2+ & Mg2+||Cell adhesion|
Needed when cells are to remain attached to culture substrate
|Without Ca2+ & Mg2+||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|With glucose & pyruvate||Energy source and cell survival support|
May keep cells alive longer when culture medium is absent
|Without glucose & pyruvate||✓||✓||✓|
|With phenol red||pH indicator|
Exhibits gradual color change from yellow to pink when between pH 6.8 and 8.2
|Without phenol red||✓||✓|
|With sodium bicarbonate||Stabilizes pH in CO2 environments|
Can be used in CO2 rich environments such as cell culture incubators
Available in both liquid and powder form, all Gibco balanced salt solutions are manufactured in state-of-the-art cGMP, ISO-certified facilities, maintaining the highest quality and consistency for reproducible results. Regular testing includes osmolality, pH levels, stability, as well as testing against the presence of endotoxins, and bacterial and fungal contamination.
For increased stability, all powdered balanced salt solutions are produced without sodium, and therefore require sodium bicarbonate supplementation, pH adjustment, and filtration at the time of preparation. Please see this protocol for preparing salt solutions from powder concentrates for detailed instructions.
PBS and DPBS, both of which include sodium chloride and phosphate buffer, are common reagents used in biological research to maintain pH while minimizing osmotic shock in living cells; however, in contrast to PBS, DPBS also includes potassium chloride and may be formulated with or without calcium and magnesium and with or without glucose and pyruvate. Select PBS or DPBS based on your specific application.
|Application||Ca2+, Mg2+||Glucose, pyruvate||PBS Cat. No.||DPBS Cat. No.|
|Cell dissociation, immunostaining||–||–||10010|
|Tissue dissection, assay, immunostaining, perfusion||+||+||14287|
|Cell therapy applications||–||–||A1285601|
Hanks' balanced salt solution (HBSS) and Earle’s balanced salt solution (EBSS) are both isotonic solutions used to maintain osmolality and pH in biological applications. While both HBSS and EBSS include glucose and sodium bicarbonate for short-term maintenance of cells outside of growth medium, EBSS is designed for use under 5% CO2, whereas HBSS, which is formulated with less sodium bicarbonate, allows for use without CO2. Select from a variety of formulations specific to your application.
|Application||Ca2+, Mg2+||Glucose||Phenol red||Sodium bicarbonate||HBSS Cat. No.||EBSS Cat. No.|
|Tissue dissociation, perfusion||–||+||–||+||14175||14155|
|Dissection, staining||–||+||–||–||10X: 14185|
|Dissection, cell washing||–||+||+||+||14170|
|Live cell procedure, microscopic study with live cells, dissection||+||+||–||+||14025|
|Dissection, microscopic study with live cells||+||+||–||–||10X: 14065|
|Cell culture, tissue dissociation||+||+||+||+||24020||24010|
Hanks’ balanced salt solution (HBSS) and phosphate buffered saline (PBS) are two types of salt solutions commonly used for the maintenance of osmolality and pH in cell culture applications. However, the formulations of these two solution types differ. While PBS is a simple solution containing phosphate buffer, HBSS is more complex and includes sodium bicarbonate. Both may be formulated with glucose and pyruvate as well as calcium and magnesium. However, given their differences, application should be carefully considered when selecting the appropriate solution for your cell culture experiments. See above for selection guides by application.
Commonly used in biological applications, PBS is a water-based salt solution with a simple formulation. It is isotonic and non-toxic for most cells. It includes sodium chloride and phosphate buffer and is formulated to prevent osmotic shock while maintaining living cells’ water balance.
Like PBS, DPBS is also a water-based solution containing sodium chloride and phosphate buffer that is used in biological applications. However, DPBS differs from PBS in that it also includes potassium chloride and is available in a larger variety of formulations.
Originally formulated in 1940 by microbiologist, John Hanks, HBSS is rich in bicarbonate ions. Ordinarily used as buffer systems in cell culture media, HBSS helps maintains optimum physiological pH. Because these buffers are low in reactivity, HBSS is often used in atmospheric conditions. HBSS may be used to maintain osmolality and pH in biological applications.
The amount of sodium bicarbonate in EBSS is designed to maintain pH under 5% CO2, while HBSS has lower sodium bicarbonate levels and is intended for incubation without CO2. These buffers also come in a variety of formulations, including with or without calcium/magnesium ions, and with or without phenol red, so you may choose the appropriate buffer depending on your application.
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.
The 1 L Gibco bottle uses 38% less source material (32% less material for the 500 mL bottle) than comparable media bottles on the market today. This helps reduce the consumption of non-renewable resources, helping shrink your footprint.
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