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Adherent Cells


  • 1x Phosphate-buffered saline (PBS)
  • Trypsin-EDTA buffer/ media
  • Complete cell culture medium (e.g., 10% FBS, 1% pen-strep)


  1. Pre-warm all reagents to 37°C in the bead bath.
  2. After reagents are warmed, spray bottles down with ethanol and prepare the hood as for routine work.
  3. Stand the flask up. Open the cap and aspirate old culture media from the cell culture vessel.
  4. Add PBS to the flask. Lay the flask flat and wash by gently tilting the flask back and forth.
    Note: For a T-75 flask, use 5 mL PBS. For a T-25, use 2 mL PBS.
  5. Stand the flask up. Open the cap and aspirate off the PBS.
  6. Add Trypsin-EDTA into the culture flask. Lay the flask flat and coat the cells completely with the Trypsin-EDTA. Let the flask sit in the hood at room temperature for 5 minutes.
    Note: For a T-75 flask, use 2 mL PBS. For a T-25, use 0.5 mL PBS.
  7. After incubation, examine the cells under a microscope. Fully trypsinized cells should appear rounded up and no longer attached to the surface of the flask/dish.
  8. If the cells are not fully detached, place the flask back into the 37 °C incubator. Some cells may require some mechanical agitation (including “tapping” the flask).
  9. Once the cells have detached, stand the flask up and add serum-containing medium (e.g., 10% FBS) to the cells to deactivate the trypsin. Repeatedly suck up and dispense the medium from the pipette to "wash" cells off the growth surface and into the bottom of the flask. Leave the flask standing up.
    Note: For a T-75 flask, use 8 mL medium. For a T-25, use 3.5 mL medium.
  10. Get a new flask, label it with the cell line name, your initials, and the date. Include the passage number (e.g., PS-1 if you are splitting the cells for the first time, PS-2 for the second time, etc.).
  11. Stand the new flask up. If you are splitting 1:10, add 9 mL medium to the new flask. In the old flask, gently resuspend the cells by pipetting up and down about 5 times. Transfer 1 mL of cells into the 9 mL of medium in the new flask. Lay the flask flat and tilt back and forth to spread the cells evenly.
    Note: For less robust cells, split 1:5 by adding 2 mL cells to 8 mL fresh medium, or 1:4 by adding 2.5 mL cells to 7.5 mL medium.
  12. Place the new flask into the 37 °C incubator. The cells should attach in a couple of hours.
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