QSG-7701 human hepatocytes form polarized acini in three-dimensional culture

Fang Zhang, Ren Xu, Mu Jun Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Hepatocytes are polarized and fulfill a variety of liver-specific functions in vivo; but the polarized tissue structure and many of these functions are lost when the cells are cultured on plastic. To recapitulate the polarized structure and tissue-specific function of liver cells in culture, we established a three-dimensional (3D) culture assay with the human hepatocyte line QSG-7701. In 3D Matrigel culture, QSG-7701 cells formed polarized spheroids with a center lumen, which is reminiscent of bile canaliculi in the liver. Immunofluoresence analysis showed that F-actin bundles and radixin were mainly located at the apical membrane and that a6 and b1 integrins were localized basally in 3D culture. Lumen formation was associated with the selective apoptosis of centrally located cells and was accompanied by proliferative suppression during acinar development. Compared to QSG-7701 cells in 2D or agarose gel cultures, the cells in 3D Matrigel culture maintained a given direction of biliary excretion and acquired higher levels of cytochrome P450 and albumin expression. Our study shows that the immortal human hepatocytes, QSG-7701, in 3D Matrigel culture reacquire cardinal features of glandular epithelium in vivo, providing an ex vivo model to study liver-specific function and tumorigenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1175-1186
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Cellular Biochemistry
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 1 2010


  • Acinus
  • Bile canaliculus
  • Hepatocytes
  • Morphogenesis
  • Polarity
  • Three-dimensional culture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'QSG-7701 human hepatocytes form polarized acini in three-dimensional culture'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this