Master Cell Bank

Author: Nanci Donacki

Source: Contributed by Nanci Donacki
Abstract: Provides detailed protocol for establishing a master cell bank
Date Added: 2002-05-14
Date Modified: 2004-04-27


To describe the preparation of a Master Cell Bank


See SP 09-001 for lab safety considerations for the cell culture lab.


  1. Laminar Flow Hood
  2. Freezers, -70oC or Rate-Controlled Freezer
  3. Liquid Nitrogen Freezer


  1. Cryovials, 1.8 ml (Nunc or equivalent)
  2. Cryovial rack (Nunc or equivalent)
  3. Sterile Centrifuge tubes, 50 ml (VWR # 21008-146 or equivalent)
  4. Fetal Bovine Serum, heat inactivated (BioWhittaker # 14-503F or equivalent)
  5. Sterile DMSO (Sigma # D2650 or equivalent)
  6. Sterile Pipets of appropriate sizes
  7. Ice
  8. Permanent Marking Pen
  9. Lab Coat
  10. Latex Gloves
  11. 70 % alcohol or equivalent
  12. Trypan Blue, 0.4% (GIBCO # 630-5250AG or equivalent)
  13. Hemocytometer
  14. Nunc Freezing Container (# 5100-0001)
  15. Freezer Log


  1. The Master Cell Bank consists of 20 vials of cells at 5 x 106 cells/vial.
  2. Before preparing the Master Cell Bank, ensure that the cell line is stabilized and that the cells are free from mycoplasma contamination.
  3. The day before freezing, refeed the cells with fresh medium, or add additional medium to suspension cultures to ensure that they are in log phase of growth.
  4. Chill the Freezing medium on ice.
  5. Label with cryotubes with the cell line name, the cells/vial, and the date.  Include on the label that the vials are the Master Cell Bank.  Place the vials in the cryotube rack and place the rack on ice.
  6. Prepare a single cell suspension, use trypsin for adherent cell line.
  7. Take an aliquot for a cell count.  Count the cells using a hemocytometer, according to the current revision of SP 05-009.  Determine the viability using trypan blue stain, according to the current revision of SP 09-005. NOTE:  The cells must have greater than 90% viability before proceeding.  If the cells are less than 90% viability, do not freeze.
  8. Transfer the cell suspension to centrifuge tubes.
  9. Centrifuge at 1000 rpm for 5 minutes, 2-8oC.
  10. Siphon off all the medium.
  11. Slowly add chilled freezing medium to yield 5 x 106 cells/ml.  Resuspend the cells in the freezing medium by gently pipetting.
  12. Place the tube on ice.  Dispense the cells, 1 ml/vial,  into the labeled cryovials.  Recap vials tightly.  Complete all vials.
  13. Place the vials into the Nunc Freezing Container or Rate Controlled Freezer Racks.
  14. Replace the lid on the freezing container.  Place the Freezing Container in the -700C Freezer overnight.
  15. Transfer the vials to the vapor phase of the liquid nitrogen freezer.
  16. Record the cell line information and location in the Freezer Log. 

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