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Alternatives to the use of fetal bovine serum: human platelet lysates as a serum substitute in cell culture media

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Caroline Rauch1, Elisabeth Feifel1, Eva-Maria Amann2, Hans Peter Spötl2, Harald Schennach2, Walter Pfaller1, and Gerhard Gstraunthaler1
1 Division of Physiology, Innsbruck Medical University, Innsbruck, Austria;
2 Central Institute of Blood Transfusion and Immunology, University Hospital, Innsbruck, Austria


The search for alternatives to the use of fetal bovine serum (FBS) in cell and tissue culture media has become a major goal in terms of the 3R principles in order to reduce or to avoid harvesting of FBS from bovine fetuses, and, in terms of Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), to ensure safe and animal product-free conditions for biomedical tissue engineering and (adult) stem cell therapy, respectively. In the present study, we investigated the feasibility of using platelet lysates (PL) as a substitute for FBS, based on the fact that most of the potent mitogenic factors present in serum are derived from activated thrombocytes. 
Platelet lysates were obtained from outdated human donor platelet concentrates. Methods were established to activate human donor platelets in order to achieve a maximum yield of platelet α-granule growth factors. Platelet lysates were successfully introduced to grow and maintain anchorage-dependent and -independent human and animal cell lines. For cell culture experiments, cells were either grown in culture media supplemented with 10% FBS, 5% PL, or under serum-free conditions. Growth experiments, viability assays, and platelet lysate-induced activation of ERK1/2 mitogen-activated protein kinase revealed platelet lysates as a valuable alternative to FBS in cell culture media.

ALTEX 28(4), 305-316
DOI: 10.14573/altex.2011.4.305

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