Human-derived alternatives to fetal bovine serum in cell culture

Transfus Med Hemother. 2013 Dec;40(6):417-23. doi: 10.1159/000356236. Epub 2013 Nov 29.


Objective: The need for an alternative to fetal bovine serum (FBS) is known to scientists and users involved in cell therapy or advanced therapy medicinal products. Human serum (huS) and platelet lysate (hPL) can be used as alternatives resulting in similar or even superior results concerning cell expansion.

Methods: We developed protocols for the production of huS and two types of hPL and tested them in the expansion of human fibroblasts and adipose tissue-derived stem cells (ASC). Quality control included cell counts (platelets, red and white blood cells), sterility testing, pH levels, total protein concentrations and growth factor levels. ASC and fibroblasts were expanded for three passages in media supplemented with FBS, huS or hPL and evaluated microscopically. Proliferation in terms of population doubling times (PDT) was determined. In case of ASC, differentiation was performed as well.

Results: All three alternatives demonstrated shorter PDT for fibroblasts and ASC compared to FBS. Furthermore, ASC maintained their differentiation potential.

Conclusion: We conclude that hPL and huS can be used as alternatives to FBS for the cultivation and expansion of cells intended for human use.

Keywords: Fetal bovine serum; Human adipose tissue-derived stem cells; Human platelet lysate; Human serum; Regenerative medicine.