What is Cell Disruption?

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Tal Shechter
Dec 30, 2016
min read
What is Cell Disruption?

Cell disruption is the process of releasing molecules or other materials from inside a cell. The action of cell disruption is used in various industries, including pharmaceutical, biotech, cosmetic, food, and drug, and is commonly used by these industries to study intercellular materials or to use the materials that are located inside of a given cell.

Cell disruption can be either a preliminary step to homogenization — the act of micronizing or reducing particle size — , or it can take place simultaneously. In either case, cell disruption can occur via various methods. Continue reading to learn more about the methods for cell disruption.

Bead Method

In the bead method of cell disruption, the cells in question are disrupted via small glass, ceramic, or steel beads mixed with the sample that is suspended in media. In the bead method, the sample and bead mixture is manually agitated by either stirring or shaking.  This is a very common method that is popular in laboratory settings with small amounts of media, and is often used to disrupt yeast cells, as well as various types of animal and plant tissues.


The method of cryopulverization is often utilized when dealing with cells with a tougher outer membrane, such as animal connective tissues, cartilage, or seeds. In this method, the material in question is reduced to a very fine powder by impact pulverization at very low (liquid nitrogen) temperatures. Like the bead method mentioned above, cryopulverization is a very manual (and often slow) process.


Microfluidization is a common method of cell disruption that is often used for proteins, enzymes, and cells, such as E. Coli. In this method, micro channels with fixed geometry are paired with an intensifier pump to achieve high shear rates that easily disrupt even the toughest of cells. While changes in viscosity are often noted with other methods of cell disruption, microfluidization avoids this phenomena, making it an attractive choice for cell disruption.

Nitrogen Decompression

Nitrogen decompression is the method of choice when dealing with more sensitive enzymes, organelles, and cells. In this particular method, large quantities of nitrogen are first dissolved in the cell under high pressure. As the gas pressure is released, the nitrogen escapes, which works to rupture and release the contents of the cell. This technique is used to homogenize cells and tissues, and produces an even dispersion of cells.

To learn more about cell disruption and how our line of high pressure homogenizers can help you achieve your goals, please contact us today.

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