Bovine mammary epithelial cells can grow and express milk protein synthesis genes at reduced fetal bovine serum concentration

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Milk proteins produced by lactating cells isolated from bovine mammary tissue can offer a sustainable solution to the high protein demand of a global growing population. Serum is commonly added to culture systems to provide compounds necessary for optimal growth and function of the cells. However, in a cellular agricultural context, its usage is desired to be decreased. This study aims at examining the minimum level of fetal bovine serum (FBS) required for the growth and functionality of bovine mammary epithelial cells (MECs). The cells were isolated from dairy cows in early and mid-lactation and cultured in reduced concentrations of FBS (10%, 5%, 1.25%, and 0%). Real-time cell analysis showed a significant effect of lactation stage on growth rate and 5% FBS resulted in similar growth rate as 10% while 0% resulted in the lowest. The effect of reducing FBS on cell functionality was examined by studying the expressions of selected marker genes involved in milk protein and fat synthesis, following differentiation. The gene expressions were not affected by the level of FBS. A reduction of FBS in the culture system of MEC, at least down to 5%, does not assert any negative effect on the growth and expression levels of studied genes. As the first attempt in developing an in-vitro model for milk component production using MEC, our results demonstrate the potential of MEC to endure FBS-reduced conditions.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCell Biology International
Pages (from-to)473-482
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024


  • FBS-reduced media
  • cell proliferation
  • lactating cells
  • milk components
  • Epithelial Cells/metabolism
  • Animals
  • Lactation
  • Mammary Glands, Animal/metabolism
  • Cattle
  • Serum Albumin, Bovine
  • Female
  • Milk Proteins/metabolism


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