With the advancements made in cell culture techniques, cell culture studies provide a valuable complement to in vivo experiments and offer several advantages, such as cost effective, provide an unlimited material supply and bypass ethical concerns associated with the use of animal. In vitro studies allow more controlled experiments to study cellular functions and processes.
For cell culture experiments, cells can be removed directly from the tissue and disaggregated by enzymatic or mechanical means before cultivation, or may be derived from an established cell line. The experiments performed with primary cells are gaining more popularity in research as they provide more meaningful data. While when working with primary cells, it is important to remember that they are very sensitive and should be handled with utmost care. Here’s what you should know about primary cells:
Definite life span: Primary cells have a finite life span i.e. they undergo very few population doublings. Experiments with primary cells should be carefully planned.
Closely mimic in vivo cells: Primary cells closely mimic the cells that are present in your body. Because they have limited ability of expansion thus ensure genotypic and phenotypic stability. Immortalized cell lines, on the other hand, are often transformed either with cancer genes, viruses or due to continuous passage, which mostly alter the outcome of experiments.
Primary cells are not pure population: It is very difficult to have 100% pure primary cell population, so it is very important to know the morphology of primary cells. With primary cell culture, it is always advisable to closely observe cell morphology and to be aware of the morphology of contaminating cells also.
Primary cells are not altered: Except for the enzymatic or physical dissociation required for isolating the cells from their tissue of origin, primary cells are not modified in any other way.
Primary cells are little difficult to culture: In contrast to established cell lines, Primary cells are difficult to maintain in culture. Primary cells need optimized media, culture conditions and careful handling in lab experiments.
Though primary cells seems difficult to work with but they carry the information that is more representative of the organism.