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In Vitro. 1975 Nov-Dec;11(6):354-60.

Improved methods for reducing calcium and magnesium concentrations in tissue culture medium: application to studies of lymphoblast proliferation in vitro.


We have compared several methods for reducing calcium and magnesium concentrations in tissue culture medium, with the objective of producing selective deficiency effects on the growth of mouse (L5178Y) and human (P1R) lymphoblasts. In experiments in which calcium- and magnesium- "free" McCoy's medium was supplemented with 15% horse or fetal calf serum, enough calcium and magnesium was provided by serum to support normal lymphoblast growth rate. Either dialysis or chelating-resin treatment of horse or fetal calf serum reduced calcium and magnesium contents approximately 100-fold. Use of dialyzed sera resulted in reduced growth rate, although in most cases the reduction in growth could be attributed to other effects of dialysis on serum, inasmuch as growth in those experiments was not restored to normal by the addition of calcium and magnesium to the medium. In contrast, the reduction of lymphoblast growth rate that occurred when resin-treated serum was used was always attributable to removal of calcium and magnesium, as normal growth always occurred in cultures to which calcium and magnesium were added. To demostrate a growth-inhibiting effect on either mouse or human lymphoblasts by severe reduction of either calcium or magnesium in the presence of normal amounts of the alternative cation, it was necessary to (a) expose McCoy's Ca-Mg-"free" medium to chelating-resin to reduce further the residual cation concentrations; (b) wash cells from stock cultures in a medium devoid of calcium and magnesium prior to inoculation into experimental cultures; (c) reduce the proportion of serum in the final medium from 15 to 5%; and (d) add 100 muM EGTA to cultures. Under these conditions, growth of both cell types was completely abolished in the presence of normal magnesium but in the absence of added calcium, and markedly reduced in the presence of normal calcium but in the absence of magnesium. These modifications did not compromise growth in cultures containing normal concentrations of both ions.

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