Biochemical studies on liver functions in primary cultured hepatocytes of adult rats. I. Hormonal effects on cell viability and protein synthesis

J Biochem. 1978 Oct;84(4):937-46. doi: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.jbchem.a132207.


Liver parenchymal cells were isolated from adult rats by digesting liver slices or perfusing liver with collagenase. The cell yields were 1.5 X 10(7) and 1.0 X 10(8) cells/g liver from slices and perfused liver, respectively, and in both cases the cell viabilities and attachment efficiencies were over 90% and 60%, respectively. The cells were viable for more than one week when cultured in Williams medium E with 10% fetal bovine serum, and addition of insulin and dexamethasone enhanced the maintenance of cell viability. Various biochemical functions or freshly isolated cells and cultured cells were compared in this medium. In freshly isolated cells, induction of tyrosine transaminase [EC] by dexamethasone was low and none of the hormones examined stimulated protein synthesis; but when the cells had been cultured for a few days, induction of tyrosine transaminase became prominent, and insulin and dexamethasone stimulated protein synthesis and glucagon inhibited their effect. About half the synthesized proteins were secreted into the medium and among these proteins, albumin, transferrin, fibrinogen, and lipoproteins were identified immunochemically and electrophoretically. It was also shown that the polysomes in freshly isolated cells were almost completely disaggregated, but that in cells after a few days culture they were reaggregated. These results showed that freshly isolated cells have impaired functions, but that after culture for a few days the cells recover various liver functions and thus become more suitable for use in biochemical studies on liver functions.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cycloheximide / pharmacology
  • Dexamethasone / pharmacology
  • Glucagon / pharmacology
  • Growth Hormone / pharmacology
  • Hormones / pharmacology*
  • Insulin / pharmacology
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Protein Biosynthesis*
  • Rats
  • Ribonucleases / metabolism
  • Ribosomes / metabolism
  • Triiodothyronine / pharmacology


  • Hormones
  • Insulin
  • Triiodothyronine
  • Dexamethasone
  • Growth Hormone
  • Glucagon
  • Cycloheximide
  • Ribonucleases