Growth and differentiation of human nasal epithelial cells in culture. Serum-free, hormone-supplemented medium and proteoglycan synthesis

Reen Wu, J. Yankaskas, E. Cheng, M. R. Knowles, R. Boucher

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172 Scopus citations


Ham's F12 medium supplemented with insulin (Ins), transferrin (Tf), epidermal growth factor (EGF), hydrocortisone (HC), T3, cholera toxin (CT), and bovine hypothalamus extract (BHE) was developed for in vitro growth of human nasal epithelial (HNE) cells. The HNE cells were dissociated from freshly excised nasal polyps or turbinates with protease. Colony-forming efficiency of primary HNE cells was approximately 5%. Growth studies showed Ins, BHE, and CT were essential for growth; HC, EGF, Tf, and T3 were also stimulatory for growth. The growth rate in this serum-free, hormone-supplemented medium was 24 h per population doubling. Up to 20 population doublings and 3 passages of dissociated HNE cells could be achieved. Addition of serum to this culture medium inhibited epithelial cell growth. Vitamin A had no apparent effect on cell growth but induced an alteration in the morphologic characteristics of the cell. The epithelial nature of cultured cells was confirmed by positive staining with antihuman keratin antibody, ultrastructural studies, and by formation of a columnar, ciliated epithelium in denuded tracheal grafts repopulated by these cultured HNE cells. Biochemical analyses of glycoproteins (labeled with 3H-glucosamine and/or 35S-sulfate) secreted by cultured HNE cells were unable to demonstrate the secretion of mucinlike glycoproteins in culture. Instead, major secretory products of cultured cells were hyaluronate and heparan sulfate. These results were in agreement with morphologic observations that showed no mucus-secreting granules in cultured cells. Dome formation was observed in high cell density cultures. We conclude that HNE cells can be cultured in well-defined culture media. As indicated by formation of domes, these cells may be useful for in vitro ion transport studies. Further differentiation, however, may be required for studies of mucin synthesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)311-320
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Review of Respiratory Disease
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1985
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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