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Trademark of GE Healthcare for colloidal silica coated with polyvinylpyrrolidone that is used for density gradients. Inert and will form a good gradient rapidly when centrifuged. Useful for the separation of cells, viruses and sub-cellular organelles.


Percoll is a trademark for a tool consisting of colloidal silica particles (approximately 15-30 nm in diameter) coated with polyvinylpyrrolidone. It is used for the separation of cells, viruses, and (subcellular) organelles through density centrifugation. It is efficient in density gradient experiments since it is inert and will form a good gradient rapidly when centrifuged. It has a low osmolarity and would not be toxic to cells and other cellular components. Nevertheless, the use of Percoll is limited to research and experiments only. It is not advised to use this for clinical purposes. Previously, Percoll was used in assisted reproductive technology. It is used to separate sperm from semen for use in techniques such as in vitro fertilization and intrauterine insemination. The use of Percoll for these purposes was stopped due to the concerns that the polyvinylpyrrolidone that coats the colloidal silica particles might cause damage to the sperm. It is also not recommended to use this tool for any cells that would be re-injected to a patient for fear of contacting endotoxin from Percoll that can trigger inflammation and fever.1

1 Percoll. Retrieved from [1].