Cell Lysis Method: Chemical or High-Pressure Homogenization?

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Deb Shechter
Feb 29, 2016
min read
Cell Lysis Method: Chemical or High-Pressure Homogenization?

Cell lysis is a critical technique for any laboratory that uses nucleic acids or intracellular proteins. Before being able to actually use these molecules, they must be released from the cell by disrupting the barrier separating them from the external environment. For some cells (such as mammalian), this process is easy; only a flexible membrane stands between the researcher and product of interest. Yet others, such as fungus and bacteria, have a rigid wall that is not so willing to break. The question is, then, which cell lysis method is more appropriate for difficult-to-disrupt cells? Below we analyze the differences between two commonly used methods, chemical lysis and high pressure homogenization, to determine which is more effective.

Overview of Processes

Chemical cell lysis uses detergents to disrupt the hydrophilic and hydrophobic interactions within the cell wall and membrane. The detergent’s chemical composition determines which cell type(s) it can most effectively disrupt, since most cells have unique biochemical properties. In contrast, high pressure homogenization forces the sample through a narrow space while imparting pressure, shear and other mechanical forces onto the sample.


As evident from the above overview, chemical lysis and high pressure homogenization are conducted in very different ways. Outside of the basic technique, however, significant differences exist that may impact your decision to use one or the other. Firstly, chemical lysis is only appropriate for small sample sizes, in that it is incredibly costly to use for bigger batches or large-scale production. High pressure homogenization, however, is well-suited to scaling from laboratory testing to commercial production so can be used for a wide range of sample sizes. And secondly, high pressure homogenization is flexible in its ability to be customized for more sensitive samples or alternatively, tough-to-lyse samples. Chemical lysis is a ‘one-size-fits-all’ technique that either works for a sample or doesn’t; customization is not an option once the chemical solution has already been prepared.

So Which Is Preferable?

Although both methods have high product yield, it is important to consider the specific cell type you are working with, along with your laboratory’s budget and long-term goals. Because of its flexibility, however, high-pressure homogenization can be used across cell types and applications, which gives it more bang for its buck.

Pion: The BEE Homogenizer Advantage

Use of high quality cell lysis equipment will provide numerous benefits for both production laboratories and consumers alike. And there are plenty of companies on the market to select your equipment from. However, the lysate can be of higher quality and more even consistency when run through top-shelf equipment, most frequently in the form of a high pressure homogenizer. Pion's BEE homogenizer technology is trusted by researchers and lab managers around the world. We deliver an array of key benefits, such as production of nano/micro emulsions and dispersions and lipids and suspensions; these can be used for applications such as injectables, targeted drug delivery, inhalants, time release, anesthetics, and importantly, vaccinations.

In addition, we have extensive experience in the challenges that our customers face as they transition from concept, through to R&D, clinical trials, all-important FDA approval and finally, to manufacturing.

Learn more by visiting our cell lysis applications or download our FREE eBook "7 Key Factors to Consider When Choosing A Cell Lysis Method" to find the best cell lysis method!

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