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Yes, different expansion and differentiation media are needed for culturing these models. For example, undifferentiated airway epithelial cells are initially expanded in a cell cultureware vessel for several passages using cell growth media. It is typically recommended to harvest the cells when they reach 60-80% confluence. The cells are then seeded onto and expanded in porous inserts such as Transwell, Falcon or BioCoat permeable supports typically coated with collagen I or other collagen types. The expansion media, which is added to both the apical and basolateral compartments of the inserts, contain growth factors (eg. bFGF) to promote cell adhesion and growth. In commercially available airway epithelial growth media, these growth factors are supplied by the presence of bovine pituitary extract (BPE), such as in Bronchial Epithelial Cell Growth Medium or Small Airway Growth Media by Lonza, or by human plasma-derived components such as in PneumaCult™-Ex Medium or PneumaCult™-Ex Plus Medium.
Once the cells have formed a tight monolayer, the expansion culture media is gently removed from both the compartments. For cell differentiation, media such as PneumaCult™-ALI Medium is then added to the basal compartment only leaving the apical surface of the cells exposed to the air (air lifting).