Bovine Serum Albumin (BSA) comes in many forms, which is why people frequently post questions online, asking what BSA should be used in their experiment. Forum responses have been good about directly addressing the procedure in question, but it's really hard to find a consolidated resource that helps researchers evaluate each type of BSA and their appropriate uses. Since the Internet is lacking a central guide, I set out to investigate what goes into choosing between BSA types and provide these answers in this article.

First, we should address what types of BSA exist in the market. GoldBio offers two types: protease free and fatty acid free (I’ll explain why fatty acid free is a good choice for many experiments later on in this article). But then you have other types of BSA, such as standard BSA, low endotoxin, immunoglobulin free and blocking agent BSA. Obviously each type offers certain features that may help or hurt your project. So which one is best for your experiment?

To figure this out, we should look at common processes that use BSA:

1.Cell Culture


3.Enzyme System Diluent


5.Protein Stabilization

6.Carrier Protein

One Chart to Rule Them All

Which one of these six common methods are you using? That’s going to be what helps you decide which BSA is right for your experiment. Certain types of BSA will cover a multitude of techniques; for that reason, it is better to address which BSA types are appropriate for each process in a simple chart rather than long paragraphs where overlaps aren't as evident.
BSA Selection Guide Chart - What BSA (Bovine Serum Albumin) Should I Use – Your BSA Selection Guide

Beyond the Chart:

The chart certainly reduces having to do heavy research into finding the best option. It also makes it clear that there are certain BSA types that reach further than others. For example, it's obvious that fatty acid free BSA and protease free BSA works well in a wide variety of techniques, making each a more ideal product, while a blocking BSA is best used only as a blocking agent in ELISA.

But beyond these criteria, there are other very important factors to consider. Number one is usually price. Being sure it fits the budget is make-or-break for almost every researcher. The next go-to for a researcher is purity. But let’s say you found the right BSA type, it fits your budget and it has excellent purity, what else should you consider? When evaluating BSA, the location it’s manufactured in and if it’s certified as bovine spongiform encephalopathy compliant is also vital for obvious reasons.

Why Choose Fatty Acid Free BSA?

The factors mentioned in this article are exactly what GoldBio considered when first offering protease free BSA, and then more recently our fatty acid free BSA, which is also protease free. We were determined to provide researchers with a product that satisfies most criteria for BSA selection. First, they’re both extremely affordable and have high purity. Beyond that, however, both products are manufactured in the USA and are BSE/TSE compliant. And while GoldBio’s protease free BSA is appropriate for a variety of common techniques, we recently introduced fatty acid free BSA because it is useful in an even broader range of experiments, not just the ones listed on the chart. Besides satisfying some check boxes, fatty acid free BSA eliminates certain variables from the experiment. In fact, there are times when the nature of the experiment necessitates the use of fatty acid free BSA over others. For instance, if you're working with a fatty acid sensitive cell culture system such as CHO, Vero and MDCK cells, fatty acid free BSA is more suitable for those situations.

Of course both products have their limits. They won't be ideal for processes such as PCR or bloodbanking, but in general, both BSA types, and more particularly the fatty acid free BSA will allow you to stretch the product over a wider variety of techniques without costing much more. Economically, it's a better choice. And if you still question whether this product or other BSA types are right for you, it’s best to do additional research to be certain.

If you found this guide useful, you might want to share it with others and check out some of our other articles, which are both helpful and entertaining.

Karen Martin
GoldBio Marketing Coordinator

"To understand the universe is to understand math." My 8th grade
math teacher's quote meant nothing to me at the time. Then came
college, and the revelation that the adults in my past were right all
along. But since math feels less tangible, I fell for biology and have
found pure happiness behind my desk at GoldBio, learning, writing
and loving everything science.

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