Indian journal of experimental biology

Goat serum: an alternative to fetal bovine serum in biomedical research.

PMID 15274477


Serum is frequently added to the defined basal medium as a source of certain nutritional and macromolecular growth factors essential for cell growth. Although a number of synthetic media have been prepared serum continues to be used in cell culture by many investigators. The best supplementation to a basal medium is fetal bovine serum (FBS) that is most frequently used for all types of cell cultures. During last four decades National Institute of Virology, Pune, has been working on isolation and identification of viruses from clinical specimens, employing tissue culture. Initially FBS was used for this purpose. However, due to its prohibitive cost and uncertain supply an alternative was sought. Commercially available sera from newborn calf, sheep, horse, human and serum obtained from goat blood (available from local abattoir) were tried. Goat serum (GS) was found to be suitable for most of the cell lines and primary cultures. Primary cultures from guinea pig embryo, monkey kidney, chick embryo, mouse peritoneal macrophages, and established cell lines were prepared and grown in growth media supplemented with GS. These cultures were studied for their morphology and growth in comparison with cultures grown in FBS containing media, and were used for mass cultivation of cells, quantitation and susceptibility of various virus strains, studies on effects of different nutrients and natural substances on cellular metabolism and virus replication, epitope analysis of various strains of Japanese encephalitis (JE) virus, strain differentiation studies, studies on antibody dependent plaque enhancement, assay of murine migration inhibition factor. Monoclonal antibodies against JE virus adapted to GS were characterised for their retention of functionalities. The results were comparable to those of cell cultures grown in FBS containing media. Similar results on chromosome studies were obtained from patient's whole blood cultures prepared in GS and FBS containing growth media. Organ cultures from mammalian, reptile and avian hosts; successfully grown in GS supplemented growth media, were used for different virological studies. Growth media supplemented with GS were used for in vitro cultivation of malarial parasites. Thus since the last three decades many scientists are using GS in place of FBS, in various fields of biomedical research. The present article reviews an account of the same.