The optimal temperature for cell culture largely depends on the body temperature of the host from which the cells were isolated, and to a lesser degree on the anatomical variation in temperature (e.g., temperature of the skin may be lower than the temperature of skeletal muscle).  Overheating is a more serious problem than underheating for cell cultures; therefore, often the temperature in the incubator is set slightly lower than the optimal temperature.

Optimal Temperatures for Various Cell Lines

  • Most human and mammalian cell lines are maintained at 36°C to 37°C for optimal growth.
  • Insect cells are cultured at 27°C for optimal growth; they grow more slowly at lower temperatures and at temperatures between 27°C and 30°C. Above 30°C, the viability of insect cells decreases, and the cells do not recover even after they are returned to 27°C.
  • Avian cell lines require 38.5°C for maximum growth. Although these cells can also be maintained at 37°C, they will grow more slowly.
  • Cell lines derived from cold-blooded animals (e.g., amphibians, cold-water fish) tolerate a wide temperature range between 15°C and 26°C.