Serum and its applicability and use in cell culture.
By Adam Elhofy, PhD

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Fetal bovine serum (FBS) has been used in cell culture for decades. In journal articles, it is normally listed in the Materials and Methods section alongside other cell culture ingredients, such as sodium chloride (NaCl) or antibodies. However, unlike the chemically defined NaCl molecule or an antibody that is subjected to questions regarding the identity of the clone and its source, FBS surprisingly has not endured the same level of scrutiny even though it introduces the greatest variability into cell culture. In this white paper, the use of FBS in cell culture applications will be examined, as its use may go against the basic principals of scientific experimentation in that the variables are not controlled for, it contains unknowns, and results from experiments using FBS in cell culture potentially cannot be replicated.