Eagle's minimal essential medium

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Eagle's minimal essential medium (EMEM, MEM, or MEM-E) is a synthetic cell culture medium developed by Harry Eagle in 1955/1959 that can be used to maintain cells in tissue culture. It contains amino acids, salts (calcium chloride, potassium chloride, magnesium sulfate, sodium chloride, and monosodium phosphate), glucose, and vitamins (folic acid, nicotinamide, riboflavin, B12). Many variations of this medium has been developed, mostly adding additional vitamins, amino acids, and/or other nutrients.[1]

Eagle developed his earlier "basal medium" (BME) in 1955 on mouse L cells and human HeLa cells, with 13 essential amino acids and 8 vitamins found essential added. His 1959 "essential medium" doubles the amount of many amino acids. Dulbecco and Vogt developed Dulbecco's modified Eagle's medium (DMEM) in 1959, which contains approximately four times as much of the vitamins and amino acids present in the original BME formula and two to four times as much glucose. Additionally, it contains iron and phenol red for pH indication.[1] DMEM is suitable for most types of cells, including human, monkey, hamster, rat, mouse, chicken and fish[2] cells.

α-MEM (Minimum Essential Medium Eagle - alpha modification) is a medium based on EMEM in 1971 by Clifford P. Stanners and colleagues. It contains more non-essential amino acids, sodium pyruvate, and vitamins (ascorbic acid, biotin, and cyanocobalamin) compared with EMEM. It can also come with lipoic acid and nucleosides.[3][4]

GMEM (Glasgow Minimal Essential Medium) is yet another modification, prepared by lan MacPherson and Michael Stoker.[5]


One liter of each medium contains (in milligrams):

Type Ingredient EMEM DMEM[6] α-MEM[3] GMEM[5]

See also[edit]

  • RPMI (Roswell Park Memorial Institute medium), for lymph cells


  1. ^ a b Yao, T; Asayama, Y (April 2017). "Animal-cell culture media: History, characteristics, and current issues". Reproductive medicine and biology. 16 (2): 99–117. doi:10.1002/rmb2.12024. PMC 5661806. PMID 29259457.
  2. ^ Pombinho AR, Laizé V, Molha DM, Marques SMP, Cancela ML (March 2004). "Development of two bone-derived cell lines from the marine teleost Sparus aurata; evidence for extracellular matrix mineralization and cell-type-specific expression of matrix Gla protein and osteocalcin". Cell and Tissue Research. 315 (3): 393–406. doi:10.1007/s00441-003-0830-1. PMID 14762709.
  3. ^ a b "α-MEM" (PDF).
  4. ^ "Alpha MEM with Nucleosides". Stem Cell Tech.
  5. ^ a b "Glasgow's Modified Eagle's Medium 51492C". Sigma-Aldrich. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  6. ^ "DMEM, High Glucose, with 4mM Glutamine". bioind. Retrieved 4 November 2018.