Hepatocytes in suspension

Methods Mol Biol. 2006;320:255-63. doi: 10.1385/1-59259-998-2:255.


Isolated hepatocytes are a physiologically relevant in vitro model exhibiting intact subcellular organelles, xenobiotic transport, and integrated phase I and phase II biotransformation. They represent the "gold standard" for investigating xenobiotic biotransformation and metabolic bioactivation. When used in suspension, they provide an easy-to-handle and relatively cheap in vitro system that can be used for up to 4 h. The use of animal- and human-derived hepatocytes allows interspecies comparisons of metabolic properties. In contrast with microsomes, which are easily prepared from human liver tissue and can be stored in liquid nitrogen with minimal loss of functionality, cryopreservation of isolated human hepatocytes has been shown to be more difficult: after thawing losses of cell viability and biotransformation capacity occur. We provide general recommendations for the appropriate use of hepatocytes in suspension for pharmaco-toxicological studies. We also provide protocols for the cryopreservation of freshly isolated hepatocytes and their handling on thawing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biotransformation
  • Cryopreservation
  • Hepatocytes / cytology*
  • Hepatocytes / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Toxicity Tests
  • Xenobiotics / pharmacokinetics
  • Xenobiotics / toxicity


  • Xenobiotics