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Mol Med Rep. 2019 Jun;19(6):4623-4630. doi: 10.3892/mmr.2019.10160. Epub 2019 Apr 12.

Proliferation of human hepatocellular carcinoma cells from surgically resected specimens under conditionally reprogrammed culture.

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Pathology Department, Tianjin First Center Hospital, Tianjin 300192, P.R. China.
Biological Sample Resource Sharing Center, Tianjin First Center Hospital, Tianjin 300192, P.R. China.
Organ Transplantation Department, Tianjin First Center Hospital, Tianjin 300192, P.R. China.
Key Laboratory for Critical Care Medicine of the Ministry of Health, Tianjin 300192, P.R. China.
Key Laboratory of Transplant Medicine, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Tianjin 300192, P.R. China.
Tianjin Key Laboratory for Organ Transplantation, Tianjin 300192, P.R. China.


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the third most common cause of cancer mortality worldwide, which is partially due to the lack of appropriate therapeutic options. The development of HCC is accompanied with unique and continuous genomic and epigenetic modifications. Therefore, the absence of a personalized and reproducible human model reduces the ability to determine the potential of candidate treatments. Conditional reprogramming (CR) culture has been used to establish and indefinitely grow patient‑derived tumor cell lines in a rapid and efficient manner. In the present study, primary HCC cells were isolated from tumor specimens and cultured under CR conditions. The proliferative potential and capacity of cells to undergo continuous regeneration were evaluated by cell viability and proliferation assays, and the expression of tumor‑specific markers was determined by western blotting and immunofluorescence to determine the prospects for use in clinical settings. It was demonstrated that ~55% of tumor samples were able to generate HCC cells that could be continuously expanded and passaged under CR conditions; this ability was associated with the source and composition of the tumor tissues. Furthermore, the expression of the tumor‑specific marker α‑fetoprotein and the proliferative ability of cells were maintained following cycles of cryopreservation and resuscitation. In conclusion, with further optimization, the CR system may be a useful tool for the precise therapeutic treatment of patients with HCC.

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