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DPBS Quick Read

History of DPBS

Dulbecco’s Phosphate Buffer Solution (DPBS) is a type of buffer solution used in biological and biochemical experiments to maintain a stable pH and osmotic pressure. It was developed in the mid-1950s by Renato Dulbecco, an Italian virologist and Nobel laureate, during his work at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

At the time, Dulbecco was studying how viruses infect cells, and he needed a solution that could maintain a constant pH and osmotic pressure to mimic the conditions found inside living cells. He found that traditional buffer solutions, such as the commonly used HEPES and Tris buffers, were not suitable for his experiments, as they were not isotonic and could lead to osmotic stress in the cells.

To address this issue, Dulbecco developed a new buffer solution based on phosphate salts that could maintain a neutral pH and isotonicity with physiological saline. The solution contained sodium chloride, potassium chloride, sodium phosphate, and potassium phosphate, and was designed to mimic the ionic composition of extracellular fluids in the body.

Dulbecco’s solution was a major breakthrough in cell culture technology, as it enabled researchers to maintain healthy cell growth and function in vitro. Since its development, DPBS has become widely used in a variety of biological and biochemical applications, including cell culture, molecular biology, and diagnostic assays.

Today, there are many variations of DPBS available on the market, with slight differences in composition and pH. However, the basic principles of Dulbecco’s original formulation remain the same, and DPBS continues to be an essential tool in biological research.

How Does DPBS Work?

Dulbecco’s Phosphate Buffered Solution (DPBS) works as a buffer to maintain a stable pH and ionic strength in biological and biochemical experiments. It contains a mixture of phosphate salts that help to stabilize the pH and prevent it from fluctuating, which is important for many biological processes. Here’s how it works:

Neutralizing acid and base: DPBS is a combination of phosphate salts that have both acidic and basic properties. The phosphate ions can act as either a weak acid or a weak base, depending on the pH of the solution. If the pH drops, the phosphate ions can accept hydrogen ions (H+) to neutralize the acid and prevent the pH from becoming too low. Similarly, if the pH rises, the phosphate ions can donate hydrogen ions to neutralize the base and prevent the pH from becoming too high.

Osmotic pressure regulation: DPBS is formulated to have a similar osmotic pressure to the extracellular fluid in the body. This means that it has a balanced concentration of solutes, such as ions and proteins, that help to maintain the proper water balance and prevent osmotic stress. This is important for maintaining the health and function of cells in biological and biochemical experiments.

Supporting biological processes: DPBS is also formulated with a combination of cations and anions that are important for many biological processes. For example, the sodium and potassium ions in DPBS are essential for maintaining the proper membrane potential in cells, which is critical for processes such as nerve impulse transmission and muscle contraction.

Overall, DPBS works by providing a stable environment for biological and biochemical processes, maintaining the pH and osmotic pressure within a narrow range, and supporting the proper functioning of cells and biological systems.

Common Industries and Applications

Dulbecco’s Phosphate Buffered Saline (DPBS) is widely used in various industries and applications. Here are some common industries and applications for DPBS:

Biotechnology and Life Sciences: DPBS is commonly used in cell culture, where it is used as a buffer solution to maintain a stable pH and osmotic pressure, which is important for the growth and survival of cells. It is also used in many molecular biology techniques, such as DNA and RNA extraction, PCR, and protein isolation.

Pharmaceutical Industry: DPBS is used in the development and testing of new drugs, where it is used as a buffer solution to maintain a stable pH and to mimic the physiological environment in the body.

Diagnostic Industry: DPBS is used in diagnostic assays, such as ELISA and Western blotting, where it is used as a diluent for antibodies and other reagents, and as a washing buffer to remove unbound materials.

Food Industry: DPBS is used in the food industry as a diluent for food additives and as a washing buffer for food processing equipment.

Veterinary Medicine: DPBS is used in veterinary medicine as a washing buffer for tissue samples and as a diluent for vaccines and other veterinary medicines.

Environmental Science: DPBS is used in environmental science to prepare and analyze soil and water samples, and as a washing buffer for environmental monitoring equipment.

DPBS is a versatile solution that finds its use in many applications, industries and research areas that require a stable pH and osmotic pressure in biological and biochemical processes.


BIOLOGOS is a custom manufacturer of various formulations of DPBS, we have the capabilities to take a standard DPBSs and modify it to your specifications. We bring value to Research and Development initiatives, as well as small batch manufacturing thru full scale production. BIOLOGOS differentiates itself by providing boutique client services and a fully customizable product line for each valued partner.


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