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History of Phosphate Buffered Saline (PBS)

Phosphate Buffered Saline, commonly referred to as PBS, has its roots entrenched in the fields of biology and medicine. Historically, scientists recognized the need for a buffer solution that could maintain a constant pH, crucial for various biological reactions. PBS, with its salt composition mirroring physiological conditions, emerged as an optimal choice, providing stability for cells and biological molecules.

Usage in Tissue Culture

In the realm of tissue culture, the significance of PBS cannot be understated. Tissue culture, which involves the maintenance and growth of cells in a controlled environment, demands conditions that mimic the natural milieu. PBS meets this requirement by providing an isotonic and non-toxic environment for cells. The saline’s balanced salt concentration ensures that cells neither swell nor shrink, maintaining osmotic balance, which is imperative for cell viability.

Moreover, in tissue culture, PBS serves multiple roles. It’s employed for washing cells, diluting stock solutions to their working concentrations, and suspending cells for analysis or transfer. Given its neutral pH and osmotic balance, it is preferred as it maintains cell morphology and functional state.

Interplay between PBS and Phosphate Buffered Saline

Though they are the same, the distinction in terminology between PBS and phosphate buffered saline is worth noting. While ‘PBS’ is the abbreviation and often used in shorthand, “phosphate buffered saline” is the full descriptor, explaining its composition and purpose. Both terms underscore the solution’s role in creating a stable environment for cells, especially in tissue culture.

Challenges and Considerations

Despite its wide usage, it’s crucial to note that not all PBS formulations are identical. Variations exist, with or without calcium or magnesium, depending on the specific tissue culture needs. Researchers must ensure they select the appropriate PBS formulation for their experiments to avoid unintended cellular responses.


Whether referred to as PBS or phosphate buffered saline, this solution remains a cornerstone in tissue culture and broader biological studies. Its history is a testament to its indispensable role, and its continued usage underscores its reliability in ensuring optimal conditions for cellular activities.

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