, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 105–113 | Cite as

A comparison of serum-free media for the support of in vitro mitogen-induced blastogenic expansion of cytolytic lymphocytes

  • Daniel W. McVicar
  • Fei Li
  • Carl W. McCrady
  • Randall E. Merchant
Original Research Paper


The high cost and potential dangers of including human AB serum in incubation media used to expand lymphocyte populations in vitro for adoptive immunotherapy have stimulated efforts to develop defined media which can support both the expansion and induction of lymphocytes with tumor cytolytic activity in the absence of serum. Lymphocyte proliferation following exposure to either PHA or the combination of phorbol 12,13-dibutyrate (PDBu) and the calcium ionophore, ionomycin, was evaluated. Although the media tested, X-Vivo 10, HB-104, AIM V, and HL-1, supported the generation of comparable levels of LAK activity after 3–5 days incubation with 103 U human recombinant interleukin-2 (rIL-2)/ml, there were striking differences in the ability of each medium to support mitogenically stimulated lymphocytes in the absence of serum, with cells in AIM V and X-Vivo 10 showing the highest levels of DNA synthesis. In long-term cultures (17 days) of blood MNC stimulated by PDBu and ionomycin, X-Vivo 10 and HB-104 yielded the greatest numbers of cells. The addition of 2% AB serum greatly enhanced the ability of each medium to support cell proliferation to equivalent maximum levels. The results indicate that while all four serum-free media were suitable for lymphocyte culture and support the development of LAK activity, they differ in their capacity to support expansion of lymphocyte populations in response to polyclonal mitogenic activation. This latter characteristic should be considered before choosing a particular serum-free formulation as its constituents may affect mechanistic interpretations regarding signal transduction events.

Key words

cytotoxicity lymphocyte proliferation serum-free media signal transduction 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel W. McVicar
    • 1
  • Fei Li
    • 2
  • Carl W. McCrady
    • 2
  • Randall E. Merchant
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of AnatomyVirginia Commonwealth University, Medical College of VirginiaRichmondUSA
  2. 2.Department of Pharmacology and ToxicologyVirginia Commonwealth University, Medical College of VirginiaRichmondUSA

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