• Mesenchymal stem cells;
  • Fetal calf serum;
  • Platelet-rich plasma;
  • AB serum;
  • Adipose tissue


MSCs are currently in focus regarding their clinical potential in cell therapy and tissue engineering. However, most isolation and expansion protocols for clinical-scale production of MSCs use fetal calf serum (FCS) as a supplement, which poses a potential risk for infections as well as immunological reactions. To find a suitable FCS substitute, we investigated the effects of pooled human AB serum (AB-HS) and thrombin-activated platelet-rich plasma (tPRP) on adipose tissue MSCs (AT-MSCs) with FCS as the standard control medium. AT-MSCs of 10 donors were cultured under three different conditions: (a) 10% FCS, (b) 10% AB-HS, and (c) 10% tPRP. Colony-forming units, cumulative population doubling rates, and differentiation capacity toward the adipogenic and osteogenic lineages were assessed, along with immunophenotype. We demonstrated that AB-HS and tPRP provide a significantly higher proliferative effect on AT-MSCs than does FCS. In the first six passages, AB-HS and tPRP MSCs exhibited a fold expansion of 66.6 ± 15.7 and 68.1 ± 6.7, respectively, compared with 24.4 ± 0.7 for FCS. Differentiation capacity was preserved throughout long-term culture. Immunophenotype was characteristic for MSCs and comparable for all culture conditions with the exception of a distinct CD45-/CD14-positive side population for AB-HS and tPRP that tended to diminish with prolonged culture. We showed that pooled human AB serum and thrombin-activated platelet-rich plasma are alternatives to FCS for AT-MSCs. These human sources are better characterized regarding potential infectious threats, while providing a higher proliferation rate and retaining differentiation capacity and mesenchymal stem cell marker expression throughout long-term culture.

Disclosure of potential conflicts of interest is found at the end of this article.