Toward xeno-free culture of human embryonic stem cells

Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2006;38(7):1063-75. doi: 10.1016/j.biocel.2005.12.014. Epub 2006 Jan 23.


The culture of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) is limited, both technically and with respect to clinical potential, by the use of mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) as a feeder layer. The concern over xenogeneic contaminants from the mouse feeder cells may restrict transplantation to humans and the variability in MEFs from batch-to-batch and laboratory-to-laboratory may contribute to some of the variability in experimental results. Finally, use of any feeder layer increases the work load and subsequently limits the large-scale culture of human ES cells. Thus, the development of feeder-free cultures will allow more reproducible culture conditions, facilitate scale-up and potentiate the clinical use of cells differentiated from hESC cultures. In this review, we describe various methods tested to culture cells in the absence of MEF feeder layers and other advances in eliminating xenogeneic products from the culture system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Heterophile / analysis
  • Antigens, Heterophile / immunology
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cell Line / metabolism
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Coculture Techniques / methods*
  • Culture Media, Conditioned / analysis
  • Culture Media, Conditioned / pharmacology
  • Embryo, Mammalian / cytology*
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / cytology
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / drug effects
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Recombinant Proteins / chemistry
  • Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Stem Cells / drug effects


  • Antigens, Heterophile
  • Culture Media, Conditioned
  • Recombinant Proteins