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Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Primary Cells in Cell Culture

Primary cells  represent the in vivo tissue environment fairly and these cells are directly taken from body tissues for processing and establish them under optimized culture conditions. As these cells are derived directly from native body tissue and not modified, they mimic the in vivo state and physiology. Therefore, they provide excellent model systems for studying physiology and biochemistry of cells involving metabolic studies, signaling studies, drug toxicity etc. The most popular primary cells examples used in research are epithelial cells, fibroblasts, endothelial cells, keratinocytes, melanocytes, muscle cells, hematopoietic, and mesenchymal stem cells. These types pf primary cells are initially heterogeneous and can be maintained only for a limited period of time in vitro. When primary cell cultures undergo genetic transformation, they divide indefinitely and become immortalized secondary cell lines.

Primary Cells vs Cell Lines

Continuous types of cell lines  have the ability to proliferate indefinitely, are generally more robust, and easier to work with than primary cells. A major drawback of working with continuous cell lines: they are genetically modified and that can alter physiological properties in case of extensive passaging. A table for Primary cells vs cell lines has been given below for clear understanding.

Primary Cells vs Cell Lines


Advantages and Disadvantages of Primary Cells

Advantages of Primary cells:

* Bypasses ethical objections against animal use in biomedical research and allows human tissue experimentation.
* The use of primary cells provides more relevancy to biomedical research than using cell lines. Pre-screened primary cells can be good systems to study biochemical signaling vivo very closely.
* Primary cells reduce the expenditure on animal models and in turn make research cost—effective.

Disadvantages of Primary cells:

* Primary cells take more growth time than cell lines and have limited growth potential. Even with optimal growth conditions, primary cells eventually senesce and die without going for more passages.
* The cells taken from different donors might behave differently in case of immune responses (unless pre-screened).
* The cost of primary cell isolation and culturing is often high and primary cell cultures mostly require good amount of handling expertise. Primary cell characteristics may change with each subsequent passage in case optimum culture conditions are not maintained.
Although primary cells are relevant to biomedical research and give a boost to ethical research practices, procuring primary cells is a challenge. Availability of tissue-specific and species-specific primary cells is a basic limitation for many labs in India and this is where Kosheeka comes to help biomedical research ventures. Kosheeka provides the best quality of primary cells, customized as per your lab requirements. Check out our cell listings at and mail us your inquiries at

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