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BMC Vet Res. 2014 May 26;10:119. doi: 10.1186/1746-6148-10-119.

Comparative study of the effects of fetal bovine serum versus horse serum on growth and differentiation of primary equine bronchial fibroblasts.

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Institute of Pharmacology, Pharmacy and Toxicology, University of Leipzig, An den Tierkliniken 15, Leipzig 04103, Germany.



Airway fibroblasts have become a critical addition to all facets of structural lung tissue changes such as in human asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, but little is known about their role in the equine recurrent airway obstruction, a disease that resembles to the human asthma. Since the equine bronchial fibroblasts (EBF) have not been isolated and characterized yet, the use of defined medium was investigated.


Primary EBF were cultured on non-collagen coated flasks without serum or in the presence of fetal bovine serum (FBS) or horse serum (HS) or in serum depleted medium. EBF cultured in serum-free basal media and those serum deprived were not able to proliferate and even exhibited considerable cell death. In media containing FBS or HS, proliferation of the cells was reproducible between different primary cultures and cells demonstrated expression of vimentin. Large variations were found in the ability of FBS and HS to support growth and differentiation of EBF in monolayer culture. Indications of growth-promoting actions, increasing passage number as well as maintaining fibroblast morphology were found rather in FBS than in HS. EBF culturing in HS needed longer doubling and confluence time. The protein content of the cell pellets was higher in EBF cultured in medium containing HS than FBS. Alpha-smooth muscle actin seemed to be less expressed in EBF cultured in medium containing FBS than those in HS.


In sum, serum addition to basal EBF medium enhanced EBF differentiation into myofibroblasts, and these findings are useful to develop in vitro fibroblast culture models that mimic in vivo physiological processes and to study airway disease mechanisms and remodeling.

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