Human serum alters cell culture behavior and improves spheroid formation in comparison to fetal bovine serum

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Abstract

Background

The use of fetal bovine serum (FBS) as growth supplement for human cell and tissue culture is widely spread in basic research as well as in clinical approaches, although several limitations must be considered, such as unstable composition and availability, biosafety and ethical aspects. Regarding interspecies differences, xenogeneic growth factors may evoke incompatibilities and non-desired interactions with human cells resulting in imprecise outcome of human-relevant data.

Methods

In this study the functionality of human serum (HS) has been investigated in comparison to FBS by assessing proliferation, migration and invasion of the human cervical cancer cell lines SiHa and HeLa. The effects of both sera on spheroid formation were analyzed microscopically.

Results

Both, FBS and HS, stimulate cell proliferation and migration similarly, whereas HS significantly enhanced cell invasion. The spheroid formation assay revealed remarkable differences between both sera, especially for SiHa cells. While in FBS supplemented medium cells only formed loose aggregates, HS induced regularly shaped spheroids under all tested conditions.

Conclusion

We were able to demonstrate that HS and FBS differently influence behavior of cells in culture which may have an impact on experimental results, especially in 3D cultures.

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