Human mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) show promise for musculoskeletal repair applications. Animal-derived serum is extensively used for MSC culture as a source of nutrients, extracellular matrix proteins and growth factors. However, the routine use of fetal calf serum (FCS) is not innocuous due to its animal antigens and ill-defined composition, driving the development of alternatives protocols. The present study sought to reduce exposure to FCS via the transient use of human serum. Transient exposure to animal serum had previously proved successful for the osteogenic differentiation of MSCs but had not yet been tested with alternative serum sources. Here, human serum was used to support the proliferation of MSCs, which retained surface marker expression and presented higher alkaline phosphatase activity than those in FCS-based medium. Addition of osteogenic supplements supported strong mineralisation over a 3-week treatment. When limiting serum exposure to the first five days of treatment, MSCs achieved higher differentiation with human serum than with FCS. Finally, human serum analysis revealed significantly higher levels of osteogenic components such as alkaline phosphatase and 25-Hydroxyvitamin D, consistent with the enhanced osteogenic effect. These results indicate that human serum used at the start of the culture offers an efficient replacement for continuous FCS treatment and could enable short-term exposure to patient-derived serum in the future.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited