Lipofectin® Reagent


Lipofectin Reagent is suitable for the transfection of DNA (1,2), RNA (3,4), and oligonucleotides (5) into mammalian cells, and DNA into plant protoplasts (6,7). Lipofectin is specifically recommended for the transfection of endothelial cells (8). Refer to our Cell Lines database for a list of other cell types successfully transfected. Lipofectin is a 1:1 (w/w) liposome formulation of the cationic lipid N-[1-(2,3-dioleyloxy)propyl]-n,n,n-trimethylammonium chloride (DOTMA) and dioleoyl phosphatidylethanolamine (DOPE) in membrane filtered water.

Important Guidelines for Transfection

  1. Form complexes using the amounts of DNA and Lipofectin recommended. Optimize as necessary. Note: We recommend diluting DNA and Lipofectin®into Opti-MEM I Reduced Serum Medium (Cat. No. 31985-062) before complexing.
  2. Transfect cells at the confluence or cell density recommended. Optimize as necessary. Maintain the same seeding conditions between experiments.
  3. Do not add antibiotics to media during transfection as this causes cell death.
  4. For optimal results, perform transfection in medium without serum. Cells may be transfected in the presence of serum, if desired; however, complexes must be formed in serum-free medium.
  5. Test serum-free media for compatibility with Lipofectin® since some serum-free formulations (e.g. CD 293, 293 SFM II, VP-SFM) may inhibit cationic lipid-mediated transfection.
  6. Procedures are provided to transfect cells in a 6-well format (60-mm format for stable mammalian cell transfection). For other formats, vary the amounts of DNA, Lipofectin, cells, and medium used in proportion to the relative surface area of the tissue culture vessel.

Protocol - Transfecting Adherent Mammalian Cells

Use the following procedure to transiently or stably transfect mammalian cells. All amounts and volumes are given on a per well basis.

  1. One day before transfection, plate cells in growth medium without antibiotics such that they will be at the recommended confluence at the time of transfection.

  2. ConditionCell no.Growth med. vol.FormatConfluence at txfn
    Transient1-2 x 1052 ml6-well40-60%
    Stable1-2 x 1054 ml60-mm30-50%

  3. For each transfection sample, prepare complexes as follows:
    • a.  Dilute 1-5 μg of DNA in 100 μl of Opti-MEM I Reduced Serum Medium (or other medium) without serum.
    • b.  Mix Lipofectin before use, then dilute 2-25 μl of Lipofectin in 100 μl of Opti-MEM® I Medium (or other medium) without serum. Let stand at room temperature for 30-45 minutes.
    • c.  Combine the diluted DNA with diluted Lipofectin (total volume = 200 μl). Mix gently and incubate for 10-15 minutes at room temperature (solution may appear cloudy).
  4. Add the 200 μl of complexes to cells. Mix gently by rocking the plate back and forth.
  5. Incubate cells at 37°C in a CO2 incubator for 5-24 hours.
  6. The following day, add 4 ml of complete growth medium to the cells.
  7. Incubate cells at 37°C in a CO2 incubator for 24-48 hours prior to testing for transgene expression.

Optimizing Transfection

To obtain the highest transfection efficiency and low non-specific effects, optimize transfection conditions by varying cell density, DNA and Lipofectin® concentrations, and transfection incubation time.

Quality Control

Lipofectin is tested for the absence of microbial contamination using blood agar plates, Sabouraud dextrose agar plates, and fluid thioglycolate medium, and functionally by transfection of BHK-21 cells with a reporter plasmid.


  1. Felgner, P.L., et al. (1987) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 84, 7413.
  2. Invitrogen (1989) Focus® 11, 13.
  3. Malone, R.W., et al. (1989) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 86, 6077.
  4. Malone, R.W. (1989) Focus® 11, 61.
  5. Chiang, M.-Y., et al. (1991) J. Biol. Chem. 266, 18162.
  6. Sporlein, B. and Koop, H.-U. (1991) Theor. Appl. Genet. 83, 1.
  7. Zhu, Z., et al., (1990) Focus® 12, 41.
  8. Tilkins, M.L. (1994) Focus® 16, 117.
18292.lipo.pps      21-Oct-2004