Phenotypic instability of Saos-2 cells in long-term culture

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2005 Jul 22;333(1):216-22. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2005.05.097.


The human osteosarcoma cell line Saos-2 is widely used as a model system for human osteoblastic cells, though its phenotypic stability has not been ascertained. We therefore propagated these cells over 100 passages and compared relevant phenotypic properties. In general, higher passage cells exhibited higher proliferation rates and lower specific alkaline phosphatase activities, though mineralization was significantly more pronounced in cultures of late passage cells. Whereas expression of most genes investigated did not vary profoundly, some genes exhibited remarkable differences. Decorin, for instance, that has been discussed as a regulator of proliferation and mineralization, is strongly expressed only in early passage cells, and two receptors for pleiotrophin and midkine exhibited an almost mutually exclusive expression pattern in early and late passage cells, respectively. Our observations indicate that special care is required when results obtained with Saos-2 cells with different culture history are to be compared.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biological Evolution
  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cell Survival
  • Extracellular Matrix / physiology
  • Extracellular Matrix / ultrastructure
  • Genetic Variation / genetics
  • Genomic Instability / genetics*
  • Growth Substances / biosynthesis
  • Growth Substances / genetics
  • Humans
  • Osteoblasts / cytology*
  • Osteoblasts / physiology*
  • Osteosarcoma / genetics*
  • Osteosarcoma / pathology*
  • Phenotype*


  • Growth Substances