Serum (blood)

In blood, the serum (/ˈsɪərəm/) is the fluid and solute component of blood after clotting[1]. It is neither a blood cell (serum does not contain white blood cells- leukocytes, or red blood cells- erythrocytes), nor a clotting factor; it is the blood plasma not including the fibrinogens. Serum includes all proteins not used in blood clotting and all the electrolytes, antibodies, antigens, hormones, and any exogenous substances (e.g., drugs and microorganisms).

Preparation of serum cups for a lipids panel designed to test cholesterol levels in a patient’s blood

The study of serum is serology. Serum is used in numerous [diagnostic tests] as well as [blood typing].Measurements of [serum concentrations] has proved useful in many fields including [clinical trials] of therapeutic vs toxic response. [2]

Blood is centrifuged to remove cellular components. Anti-coagulated blood yields plasma containing fibrinogen and clotting factors. Coagulated blood (clotted blood) yields serum without fibrinogen, although some clotting factors remain.

Serum is an essential factor for the self-renewal of embryonic stem cells in combination with the cytokine leukemia inhibitory factor.

Clinical and Laboratory Uses

The serum of convalescent patients successfully recovering (or already recovered) from an infectious disease can be used as a biopharmaceutical in the treatment of other people with that disease, because the antibodies generated by the successful recovery are potent fighters of the pathogen. Such convalescent serum (antiserum) is a form of immunotherapy.

Serum is also used in protein electrophoresis, due to the lack of fibrinogen which can cause false results.

Purification strategies

Blood serum and plasma are some of the largest sources of biomarkers, whether for diagnostics or therapeutics. Its vast dynamic range, further complicated by the presence of lipids, salts, and post-translational modifications, as well multiple mechanisms of degradation, presents challenges in analytical reproducibility, sensitivity, resolution, and potential efficacy. For analysis of biomarkers in blood serum samples, it is possible to do a pre-separation by free-flow electrophoresis that usually consists of a depletion of serum albumin protein.[3] This method enables greater penetration of the proteome via separation of a wide variety of charged or chargeable analytes, ranging from small molecules to cells.

Usage note

Like many other mass nouns, the word serum can be pluralized when used in certain senses. To speak of multiple serum specimens from multiple people (each with a unique population of antibodies), physicians sometimes speak of sera (the Latin plural, as opposed to serums).

See also


  • Martin, Elizabeth A., ed. (2007). Concise Medical Dictionary (7th ed.). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-280697-1. Retrieved 8 September 2009.
  • Wang, Wendy; Srivastava, Sudhir (2002). "Serological Markers". In Lester Breslow (ed.). Encyclopedia of Public Health. 4. New York, New York: Macmillan Reference USA. pp. 1088–1090.
  1. "serum", The Free Dictionary, retrieved 2019-10-06
  2. Larry Kaplan, Ph.D., FACB Serum Toxicology
  3. Nissum M., Foucher AL.: Analysis of human plasma proteins: a focus on sample collection and separation using free-flow electrophoresis. In: Expert Rev Proteomics. Nr. 5, 2008, S. 571–87.
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