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Comparison of camel, dog and the laboratory animals’ sera with the fetal calf serum (FCS) for cultivation of Leishmania major


The best-known serum for Leishmania spp. cultivation is the fetal calf serum (FCS), which is very expensive with ethical concerns. This study was conducted to compare various laboratory (BALB/c mice, rat, rabbit, hamster and guinea pig) and non-laboratory (dog and camel) animals’ sera as a substitute for FCS in L. major culture. L. major, MRHO/IR/75/ER strain, was cultivated in RPMI-1640 medium enriched with different percentages of mentioned animal’s sera. Parasite growth was checked constantly. The rate of growth and survival of parasites were compared with a control medium enriched with FCS. As well, biochemical (albumin, globulin AST, ALT, ALP, Bil, BUN, Crea, Ca, P, Na, K, Fe, TIBC, Mg, zinc, Chol, HDL, LDL, TG, BS, uric acid, LDH, CPK) analysis of all sera was performed and compared with FCS. The most promastigote growth rate is considered in 10% BALB/c, guinea pig and hamster sera on the 6th day of cultivation. Also, on the 8th day, parasites showed viability in all animal sera. The promastigote growth in culture media enriched with the camel and the dog sera in comparison with laboratory animals was considered very low. Differences between 10% FCS and 10% cocktail serum were not significant (p > 0.05) but with other sera were significant (p < 0.05). Also, differences between BALB/c with hamster and guinea pig sera were not significant, respectively (p = 0.07 and p = 0.09). According to the biochemical analysis of all sera, the higher content of iron was detected in the hamster, guinea pig, BALB/c and fetal calf sera. The magnesium and zinc content of guinea pig and BALB/c serum was found to be more than the others and comparable with FCS. The promastigote growth decreased by camel, dog and rat sera orderly. In this study, a rapid increase in parasite growth in media supplemented with hamster, BALB/c and guinea pig sera was considered. It could be suggested to use these sera as a suitable alternative for FCS in molecular biology researches.

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This project was supported by the vice-chancellor of research, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences. The authors wish to appreciate Prof. M. Pourjafar, faculty of veterinary medicine, Shiraz University, Iran, for his kind cooperation in preparing the camel serum, and the authors thank the Research Consultation Center (RCC) of Shiraz University of Medical Sciences for their assistance in English editing of this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Gholamreza Hatam.

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Esfandiari, F., Derakhshanfar, A., Goudarzi, F. et al. Comparison of camel, dog and the laboratory animals’ sera with the fetal calf serum (FCS) for cultivation of Leishmania major. J Parasit Dis (2020).

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  • Leishmania major
  • Laboratory animals
  • Fetal calf serum