Many protocols suggest that beta-mercaptoethanol is necessary for growing cells. It is a reducing agent but what does it mechanistically do for your cells. When would one not add it.


2-me is a reducing agent necessary to be added to help keep free radical oxygen from affecting mouse cells. It is generally not necessary for human cells.

Also from S Bannai and Ishii et al., 2-mercaptoethanol improves tumor cell uptake of cystine by creating a reducing environment.

  • $\begingroup$ BTW, the statement about human cells is not true. The addition of bME to primary immune cell cultures, especially B and T cell cultures, is common. $\endgroup$ – MattDMo Dec 2 '15 at 23:39
  • $\begingroup$ Common doesn't necessarily mean necessary. $\endgroup$ – bobthejoe Dec 29 '15 at 18:01
  • $\begingroup$ I have never used it in human B and T cell culture. I'm switching to mouse work for my post doc and trying to figure out all the differences. Thanks for this post! $\endgroup$ – Cara Wogsland Sep 1 '17 at 12:21

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