Should I heat inactivate human serum?

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The practice of heat inactivating serum was originally developed when only serum from adult sources was available for cell culture. Adult serum contains various immune factors, particularly serum complement, which may inhibit or destroy cells under certain conditions. Heat Inactivation (HI) was originally introduced for the purpose of reducing serum complement activity.

Today, serum is often heat-inactivated without evidence of beneficial effect, but simply because an earlier protocol calls for such action. Since most cells grow perfectly well without HI, we ask that the necessity of this process be seriously examined prior to HI of human serum to see that it is absolutely necessary. HI of human serum will lead to increased precipitate levels in the product, due mainly to higher overall levels of lipids in the human diet as compared to bovine or other animal sera. Although the presence of this precipitate will not affect the product’s performance in culture, it can lead to filtration and/or visualization issues.

If, in light of the above, you would still prefer to heat-inactivate your serum, Gemini Bio-Products will provide this service to you at no additional charge. Our standard protocol for heat inactivation is available below for download as a PDF.