The current status of primary hepatocyte culture

Int J Exp Pathol. 1998 Dec;79(6):393-409. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2613.1998.00083.x.


Recently, there have been significant advances toward the development of culture conditions that promote proliferation of primary rodent hepatocytes. There are two major methods for the multiplication of hepatocytes in vitro: one is the use of nicotinamide, the other is the use of a nutrient-rich medium. In the medium containing a high concentration of nicotinamide and a growth factor, primary hepatocytes can proliferate well. In this culture condition small mononucleate cells, which are named small hepatocytes, appear and form colonies. Small hepatocytes have a high potential to proliferate while maintaining hepatic characteristics, and can differentiate into mature ones. On the other hand, combining the nutrient-rich medium with 2% DMSO, the proliferated hepatocytes can recover the hepatic differentiated functions and maintain them for a long time. In this review I describe the culture conditions for the proliferation and differentiation of primary hepatocytes and discuss the small hepatocytes, especially their roles in liver growth.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Division
  • Culture Media
  • Liver / cytology*
  • Liver / growth & development
  • Rats


  • Culture Media