Serum stimulation of plasma protein synthesis in culture is selective and rapidly reversible

Patricia W. Plant, T. Jake Liang, Johanna Pindyck, Gerd Grieninger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Primary hepatocyte monolayers, derived from chick embryos, can be cultured from the onset in a completely chemically defined medium, free of added hormones. The liver cells synthesize and secrete a wide spectrum of plasma proteins for several days in this serum-free environment. Addition of fetal bovine serum elicits a 3-5-fold increase in the production of certain plasma proteins: fibrinogen, albumin, and the α1-globulin M. This effect of serum is selective; transferrin and plasminogen syntheses are enhanced less than 1.5-fold. Significant stimulation is observed with 0.1% fetal bovine serum, and half-maximal values for individual plasma proteins are obtained with concentrations ranging between 0.4 and 1%. The stimulatory activity of serum shows no developmental or species specificity. Plasma is as active as serum derived from the same blood sample. The hepatocytes respond rapidly to serum, significant changes in albumin synthesis occurring less than 1 h after serum addition or removal. The effect of short exposure is fully reversible. These results establish the capacity of low concentrations of serum to stimulate plasma protein synthesis and underscore the importance of studying the effects of hormones and other factors under serum-free conditions. The findings suggest that, in addition to the classical hormones, ubiquitous but as yet uncharacterized serum components play a role in controlling this major hepatic function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)407-412
Number of pages6
JournalBBA Section Nucleic Acids And Protein Synthesis
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 27 1981
Externally publishedYes


  • Albumin synthesis
  • Fibrinogen synthesis
  • Plasma protein synthesis
  • Serum effect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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