Effect of fetal bovine serum on mineralization in silk fibroin scaffolds

Acta Biomater. 2015 Feb;13:277-85. doi: 10.1016/j.actbio.2014.11.025. Epub 2014 Nov 20.


Fetal bovine serum (FBS) is a common media supplement used in tissue engineering (TE) cultures. The chemical composition of FBS is known to be highly variable between different brands, types or batches and can have a significant impact on cell function. This study investigated the influence of four different FBS types in osteogenic or control medium on mineralization of acellular and cell-seeded silk fibroin (SF) scaffolds. In bone TE, mineralized tissue is considered as the final product of a successful cell culture. Calcium assays and micro-computed tomography scans revealed spontaneous mineralization on SF scaffolds with certain FBS types, even without cells present. In contrast, cell-mediated mineralization was found under osteogenic conditions only. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy analysis demonstrated a similar ion composition of the mineralization present in scaffolds, whether cell-mediated or spontaneous. These results were confirmed by scanning electron microscopy. This study shows clear evidence for the influence of FBS type on mineralization on SF scaffolds. The suitability of FBS medium supplementation in TE studies is highly questionable with regard to reproducibility of studies and comparability of obtained results. For future TE studies, alternatives to conventional FBS such as defined FBS or serum-free media should be considered, as suggested decades ago.

Keywords: Bone tissue engineering; Fetal bovine serum; Scaffolds; Silk fibroin; Spontaneous mineralization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcification, Physiologic*
  • Cattle
  • Fibroins / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Serum / chemistry*
  • Tissue Scaffolds / chemistry*


  • Fibroins