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Maintaining balance in cell culture and processing

Used to prepare complete cell culture medium and to wash or dilute cells, balanced salt solutions (BSS) are reagents that have a physiological pH and salt concentration. BSS formulas combine components such as sodium phosphate, sodium bicarbonate, potassium chloride, and sodium chloride that regulate osmotic pressure and physiological pH to maintain cell integrity.

Importance of pH in cell culture

In cell culture, optimal cell growth depends on a wide variety of factors such as culture medium and growing conditions. A key factor in all cellular processes is pH. Deviations from the ideal pH value may cause conformational changes in enzymes, which can impair functioning or lead to irreversible denaturation. Therefore, for cells to grow well, cell culture media should have stable pH values. Aid in regulating pH values with buffers and process liquids such as BSS.

Balanced salt solutions are mainly used to rinse or dilute cells either before or after cell culture. They’re also used to make complete cell culture medium. They provide cells with inorganic ions and are buffered to protect cells from pH fluctuations while maintaining optimal osmotic pressure.

Balanced salt solutions FAQs

Below are answers to some common questions regarding balanced salt solutions.

What is a balanced salt solution (BSS)?

A balanced salt solution refers to a combination of inorganic salts in an isotonic buffer, made to a physiological salt concentration and pH.

How do buffered salt solutions work?

A BSS acts as a buffer to shield cells from pH fluctuations and balance osmotic pressure across the cell membrane. It often includes sodium (Na), sodium phosphate (Na3PO4), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and chloride (Cl). K and Na regularize permeability and tonicity, while Mg and Ca preserve the integrity of cell membranes and internal structures. Through phosphate and bicarbonates, many BSSs also control the hydrogen ion concentration. They sometimes include carbohydrates like glucose to deliver energy to cells.

What is BSS used for?

Balanced salt solutions are mostly used for cell culture research and bioprocessing. They are used in cell culture applications such as cell rinsing, dilution, and maintenance of cells.

What are the different BSS options?

We offer a broad variety of balanced salt solutions to suit your specific needs. Some come as powder formulations that must be hydrated before use; others as sterile liquid formulations to simplify bioproduction.

Here are commonly used BSS:

  • Earle's Balanced Salt Solution (EBSS)
  • Phosphate-buffered Saline (PBS)
  • Dulbecco's Phosphate Buffer Saline (DPBS)
  • Hank's Balanced Salt Solution (HBSS)
What are the differences between Earle and Hank's balanced salt solution?

The major difference between Earle's and Hank's BSS is the amount of sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3). Intended to equilibrate with a gaseous phase that contains 5% CO2, Earle's has more NaHCO3. Hank's balanced salt solution has lower NaHCO3 levels that support use in closed systems.