A Look at 3 Liquid Homogenization Methods of Cell Lysis

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Deb Shechter
Jul 27, 2015
min read
A Look at 3 Liquid Homogenization Methods of Cell Lysis

In the liquid homogenization method of cell lysis, samples are pushed through a small space and shear forces are used to disrupt cell walls. This method is common for researchers lysing cultured cells or small volumes.

There are primarily three types of liquid homogenizers used in life science laboratories around the world: Dounce homogenizer, Potter-Elvehjem homogenizer, and French press. But do any of them really get the job done? Below, we take a look at each method.

  • Dounce Homogenizer

Often used for gently lysing single cell suspensions, a Dounce homogenizer uses round glass pestles that are manually forced into a glass tube. While these glass pestles are relatively inexpensive, a major drawback of using a Dounce homogenizer is that the process is typically exceptionally time consuming, and it does not work well with large throughputs – thus making it impossible for researchers to efficiently scale up to manufacturing or clinical trials.

  • Potter-Elvehjem Homogenizer

Often used by researchers who need to disrupt cell walls but not cell tissue, a Potter-Elvehjem homogenizer involves mechanically or manually driving a polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) pestle into a conical or rounded-shaped vessel.  Many researchers opt for the manually driven pestles because, while less efficient, they are more affordable. 

  • French Press

Suitable for sample volumes between 40 – 250mL, a French press uses a piston to apply very high pressure to samples, thus forcing them through a very small hole. Compared to a Dounce homogenizer and a Potter-Elvehjem homogenizer, a French press is more efficient (requiring only two passes). However, throughput is low -- thus making it impractical or prohibitive for many researchers who are facing time constraints.

The Pion High Pressure Homogenizers Advantage

Two of the liquid homogenizers described above can ONLY use the mechanical force of impact achieve cell lysis. The French Press additionally employs shears but with little control. However, Pion technology is an in-line process that makes use of three cell disruption forces: shear, cavitation (like sonic mixing) and impact.

As a result, researchers can adjust these forces to be more gentle or harsh, and control the process to rupture a variety of cell types -- including more challenging cells like yeast and fungi – but without damaging tissue or other valuable intracellular materials. The bottom line is better yields in fewer passes, and results that are scaleable to manufacturing and clinical trials.

Learn more about our groundbreaking technology here.

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