A protocol describing the use of a recombinant protein-based, animal product-free medium (APEL) for human embryonic stem cell differentiation as spin embryoid bodies

Nat Protoc. 2008;3(5):768-76. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2008.42.


In order to promote the uniform and reproducible differentiation of human embryonic stem cells (HESCs) in response to exogenously added growth factors, we have developed a method (spin embryoid bodies (EBs)) that uses a recombinant protein-based, animal product-free medium in which HESCs are aggregated by centrifugation to form EBs. In this protocol we describe the formulation of this medium, denoted APEL (Albumin Polyvinylalcohol Essential Lipids), and its use in spin EB differentiation of HESCs. We also describe a more economical variant, BPEL (Bovine Serum Albumin (BSA) Polyvinylalchohol Essential Lipids), in which BSA replaces the recombinant human albumin. The integration of a medium that includes only defined and recombinant components with a defined number of cells to initiate EB formation results in a generally applicable, robust platform for growth factor-directed HESC differentiation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Aggregation
  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods*
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology*
  • Culture Media / chemistry*
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Humans
  • Recombinant Proteins / chemistry*


  • Culture Media
  • Recombinant Proteins