Human hepatocyte culture

Methods Mol Biol. 2006;320:283-93. doi: 10.1385/1-59259-998-2:283.


Primary culture of human hepatocytes is an in vitro model widely used to investigate numerous aspects of liver physiology and pathology. The technique used to isolate human hepatocytes is based on two-step collagenase perfusion. Originally performed in situ for obtaining hepatocytes from the adult rat, this technique has been adapted to the ex vivo treatment of human liver from organ donors or from lobectomy resection for medical purposes. This chapter describes experimental protocols for the isolation of hepatocytes from human liver tissue and for the preparation of short- and long-term cultures in which cells retain a differentiated phenotype for at least 1 mo. The various aspects emphasized here include the conditions for obtaining tissue, quality control of tissue for efficient perfusion, collagenase perfusion parameters, solutions for perfusion and culture media, cell substrate, cell plating, specific equipment, and safety conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cells, Cultured
  • Hepatocytes / cytology*
  • Humans