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Cancer Res. 1990 Sep 15;50(18):6075-86.

Isolation and characterization of a spontaneously immortalized human breast epithelial cell line, MCF-10.

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  • 1Michigan Cancer Foundation, Detroit.


Two sublines of a breast epithelial cell culture, MCF-10, derived from human fibrocystic mammary tissue exhibit immortality after extended cultivation in low calcium concentrations (0.03-0.06 mM) and floating transfers in low calcium (MCF-10F), or by trypsin-Versene passages in the customary (normal) calcium levels, 1.05 mM (MCF-10A). Both sublines have been maintained as separate entities after 2.3 years (849 days) in vitro and at present have been in culture for longer than 4 years. MCF-10 has the characteristics of normal breast epithelium by the following criteria: (a) lack of tumorigenicity in nude mice; (b) three-dimensional growth in collagen; (c) growth in culture that is controlled by hormones and growth factors; (d) lack of anchorage-independent growth; and (e) dome formation in confluent cultures. Cytogenetic analysis prior to immortalization showed normal diploid cells; although later passages showed minimal rearrangement and near-diploidy, the immortal cells were not karyotypically normal. The emergence of an immortal culture in normal calcium media was not an inherent characteristic of the original tissue from which MCF-10 was derived since reactivated cryo-preserved cells from cultures grown for 0.3 and 1.2 years in low calcium were incapable of sustained growth in normal calcium.

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