The HepG2 cell line: regularly used human liver-based in vitro model

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
  • Human derived cells / tissues / organs
Specify the type of cells/tissues/organs
derived from liver tissue of a male with a well-differentiated hepatocellular carcinoma


Method keywords
  • cell culture
  • in vitro tool
  • variety of fields
  • unlimited
  • liver-based
Scientific area keywords
  • Liver cell biology
  • protein expression
Method description

HepG2 is a human hepatoma derived cell line, which are epithelial in morphology. It was established from liver tissue of a 15-year-old Caucasian male with a well differentiated hepatocellular carcinoma. The HepG2 cell line is one of the most used human liver-based in vitro models. The cells secrete a variety of major plasma proteins (e.g. albumin), but show low levels of biotransformation enzymes. HepG2 cells grow mainly in islands after which they form a monolayer. They have been widely used in a variety of fields such as the study of hepatocyte function and specific protein expression.

Lab equipment
  • Laminar flow hood;
  • Phase contrast microscope;
  • Incubator;
  • Water bath (automatic);
  • Micropipettes;
  • Centrifuge.
Method status
  • History of use

Pros, cons & Future potential

  • High stability;
  • Unlimited life span

References, associated documents and other information

Contact person

Anja Heymans


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