Hepatic differentiation of rat liver epithelial cells

Commonly used acronym: rLEC-Hep

Scope of the method

The Method relates to
  • Human health
The Method is situated in
  • Basic Research
Type of method
  • In vitro - Ex vivo
This method makes use of
  • Animal derived cells / tissues / organs
Species from which cells/tissues/organs are derived
Rattus norvegicus
Type of cells/tissues/organs
rat liver epithelial cells


Method keywords
  • liver
  • epithelial cells
  • Hepatocytes
  • cellular differentiation
Scientific area keywords
  • liver research
  • cellular differentiation
Method description

Rat liver epithelial cells are cultivated at 100% confluency on 100 µg/mL rat tail collagen type I coated culture dishes in base medium and sequentially exposed to hepatogenic growth factors and cytokines. Base medium consisted of William’s E medium without glutamine supplemented with 7.33 IE/mL benzyl penicillin, 50 µg/mL streptomycin sulphate, 1 mg/mL linoleic-acid bovine serum albumin, 0.1 mM L-ascorbic acid, 0.03 mM nicotinamide, 0.25 mM sodium pyruvate and 1.623 mM L-glutamine. The hepatic differentiation procedure is as follows: days 0–2: base medium + 2% (v/v) FBS + 20 ng/mL HGF; days 3–5: base medium + 30 ng/mL HGF + 0.5% (v/v) ITS; day 6–8: base medium + 30 ng/mL HGF + 0.25 % ITS + 20 µg/L dex; days 9–11: base medium + 20 ng/mL HGF + 20 µg/L dex; days 12–14: base medium + 10 ng/mL HGF + 20 µg/L dex + 10 ng/mL OSM and from day 15 onwards: base medium + 20 µg/L dex + 10 ng/mL OSM. Cell cultures are incubated at 33 °C in a 5 % CO2 humidified atmosphere. Media were completely changed every three days, unless otherwise defined.

Method status
  • History of use
  • Internally validated
  • Published in peer reviewed journal

Pros, cons & Future potential


Homogenous population of rat hepatocyte-like cells with biotransformation capacity comparable to primary rat hepatocytes.

References, associated documents and other information


De Kock J, Snykers S, Branson S, Jagtap S, Gaspar JA, Sachinidis A, Vanhaecke T, Rogiers V. (2012) A liver-derived rat epithelial cell line from biliary origin acquires hepatic functions upon sequential exposure to hepatogenic growth factors and cytokines. Curr Med Chem. 19(26):4523-33

Contact person

Joery De Kock


Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB)
Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences
In Vitro Toxicology and Dermato-Cosmetology
Brussels Region