Continuous multiplication of rabbit tracheal epithelial cells in a defined, hormone-supplemented medium

Reen Wu, Donna Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

131 Scopus citations


An improved Ham's F12 nutrient medium supplemented with epidermal growth factor (EGF), insulin (INS), and transferrin (TF) was developed for continuous proliferation and clonal growth of primary rabbit tracheal epithelial (TE) cells in culture. The addition of small quantities of fetal bovine serum (FBS) (0.01 to 0.1%) to cultures had little measurable stimulation on TE cell growth and plating efficiency. However, serum levels higher than 0.1% inhibited cell growth and also masked the growth stimulating activities of EGF and INS despite an increase in cell attachment. Under this defined, hormone-supplemented medium, and in the presence of a trace amount of serum (0.01%), 10 to 20% of the protease-dissociated TE cells attached to the culture dish followed by at least four population doublings during 7 to 10 d of culture. Clonal growth occurred at a seeding density of 17 cells/cm2 with a plating efficiency of 6 to 8%. Confluent primary cultures could be passaged two to four times by treatment with a 0.1% trypsin-1 m M EDTA solution and a total of 10 to 30 population doublings of in vitro life span were obtained. The epithelial nature of cultured cells was confirmed by indirect immunofluorescent staining with antikeratin antibody as well as by transmission electron microscopy. This study shows that using this improved hormone-supplemented medium, rabbit TE cells can be maintained in culture for extended periods of time without the aid of a fibroblast feeder layer or explant tissue. This system could be useful for the study of cell differentiation of tracheal epithelium.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)800-812
Number of pages13
JournalIn Vitro
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1982
Externally publishedYes


  • cell growth
  • defined medium
  • epithelial cultures
  • growth factors
  • hormones
  • tracheal epithelial cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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