During the past two decades, cell culture has played an important role in many biochemical and biomedical fields. However, finding an alternative to animal serum is an important area in cell culture methods and related biotechnology industries. In a previous study, we demonstrated that the platelet-rich plasma (PRP) from specific pathogen-free pigs was a rich source of cytokines and growth factors and might serve as a replacement for animal serum. The selection of an activator is a crucial step in PRP activation and affects the availability of bioactive molecules. The present study is the first to demonstrate the ability of ectoine to activate PRP and to investigate the effects of ectoine-activated PRP on cell proliferation and biological function. The amounts of bioactive molecules, including TGF-β, PDGF-AB, EGF, VEGF, KGF and IGF, secreted from PRP activated by ectoine were measured. In addition, two types of primary cells and three types of cell lines were cultured with various concentrations of ectoine-activated PRP under animal serum-free conditions. Then, the effects of ectoine-activated PRP on cell growth kinetics, extracellular matrix secretion and melanin synthesis were also determined. Finally, our results demonstrated that ectoine is a novel and effective PRP activator and that ectoine-activated PRP can serve as an excellent replacement for animal serum in cell culture and related applications.
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