Brain tissue comprises numerous cell types, including neurons and glial cells such as astrocytes. Primary neural cell preparations often contain a mixture of these cell types, so it is important to use the proper neural cell culture media and supplements to select for and enhance the desired population.

Gibco Neuronal Medium and Astrocyte Medium are optimized to support cell growth as well as maintenance of cell viability, normal phenotype, and appropriate neural cell function. With these optimized neural cell culture media, neuronal and astrocytic populations can be maintained for weeks.

Neuronal cell culture media

Thermo Fisher Scientific offers several varieties of neuronal media depending on your specific cell type and application:

  • Neurobasal Plus neuronal medium—for long-term maintenance of embryonic and pre-natal neurons
  • Neurobasal-A neuronal medium—for long-term maintenance of adult and post-natal neurons
  • Hibernate media—for short-term maintenance of neurons and viable brain tissue in ambient air (0% CO2) conditions

Neurobasal Neuronal Medium has been used and trusted by neuroscientists for over 20 years. This neuronal medium supports viability and health of pure populations of neurons in vitro without the need for an astrocyte feeder layer.

Which selective media is used for neurons in culture?

Neurobasal neuronal medium is one of the most popular culture media used for selective growth of neurons in vitro as it suppresses glial growth [1]. Neurobasal Plus neuronal medium, when used with B-27 Plus supplement, enhances survival of pre-natal and fetal neuronal cell cultures and enriches neurons in mixed neural cell cultures.

Astrocyte media

Astrocyte Medium is formulated for the growth and maintenance of human and rat astrocytes while retaining their phenotype. This astrocyte growth medium has three components: basal medium (DMEM), N-2 Supplement, and One Shot Fetal Bovine Serum (FBS). If more rapid proliferation is desired, addition of epidermal growth factor (EGF) is recommended, although cells may exhibit morphological and phenotypic changes.

Neural cell culture media selection guide

Cell type

Specific cell type/application

Recommended media


Rat astrocytes

Astrocyte Medium


Analysis of post-natal and adult neurons where the presence of phenol red is undesired

Neurobasal-A Medium, minus phenol red

Analysis of pre-natal and fetal neurons where the presence of phenol red is undesired

Neurobasal Medium, minus phenol red

Electrophysiology studies

Neurobasal Plus Medium

Glucose-response or insulin receptor studies in post-natal neurons where the presence of D-glucose or sodium pyruvate may interfere

Neurobasal-A, minus D-glucose and Sodium Pyruvate

Growth and maintenance of pre-natal and fetal neurons

Neurobasal Plus Medium

Maintenance/maturation of post-natal and adult brain neurons

Neurobasal-A Medium

Maintenance/maturation of stem cell-derived neurons

Neurobasal Plus Medium

Manipulation of embryonic neurons at ambient CO2 for at least 48 hours while retaining viability

Hibernate-E Medium

Manipulation of post-natal neurons at ambient CO2 for at least 48 hours while retaining viability

Hibernate-A Medium


1. Brewer, G.J.; Torricelli, J.R.; Evege, E.K.; Price, P.J. J Optimized survival of hippocampal neurons in B27-supplemented Neurobasal, a new serum-free medium combination. Neurosci Res. 1993 Aug 1;35(5):567-76. doi: 10.1002/jnr.490350513.

Support and resources for neuronal cell culture media

For Research Use Only. Not for use in diagnostic procedures.