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Cell culture | Cell culture

Key Words: live cell imaging, time-lapse

Definition:Growing and maintaining living cells in the laboratory


The maintenance and growing of healthy cells in the laboratory requires recreating an environment that supports life and avoids damaging influences, such as microbial contamination and mechanical stress. Cells are normally grown in a growth medium within culture vessels (flasks or dishes for adherent cells or constantly moving bottles or flasks for cells in suspension) and maintained in cell incubators with constant temperature, humidity and gas composition. Culture conditions vary depending on the cell type and can be altered to induce changes in cell phenotype. Cells in culture must be examined frequently under the microscope to monitor growth and to ensure that cells are healthy.

Removing culture vessels from the incubator for microscope examination or for live cell imaging studies, incurs changes in temperature, humidity and pH and results in mechanical stress. These changes can impair growth or even induce unwanted phenotype changes in cells. A number of technologies, such as microscope mounted incubation chambers, and heated microscope stages can help to maintain optimal growth conditions during imaging. Cells can even be examined microscopically within the incubator using robotic technologies to maintain constant growth conditions and reduce the risk of contamination.


Reliable cell culture is required for all live cell imaging applications. Reproducing culture conditions on the microscope can help to maintain healthy cells during imaging and increases the period over which imaging can occur without damage to cells. Cell deterioration can lead to cell death-related artefacts, which can compromise imaging results.


Nikon supplies a number of commercially available microscope-mountable incubators, heated stages and perfusion chambers that can be easily fitted onto Nikon microscopes.


Nikon’s Biostation is a cell culture incubator incorporating a remotely controlled microscope for constant environment cell culture monitoring. Vibration-free robotic technologies move selected flasks to the microscope for observation and return them to their storage position without the need for human intervention. Images can be viewed on a PC via the Internet or other network allowing multiple users to monitor the growth of their cells from any location. The system reduces the risk of contamination and accidental damage to cells. Cells are maintained in constant and optimal conditions.


Maintaining cells on the microscope stage: [microscopyu]

Culture chambers of live cell imaging: [microscopyu]

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