Cell Biophysics

, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 223–232 | Cite as

Nonrandom spatial distribution by mammalian cells in culture

  • Philip Skehan
  • Susan J. Friedman
Original Articles


Quadrat analysis was used to investigate the spatial distribution of seven mammalian cell lines in culture. The number of cells in replicate unit areas of the culture was determined, and the variance to mean ratio used as an index of random and nonrandom spatial distribution. Only mouse SV3T3 cells distributed themselves randomly throughout the entire culture growth cycle. The remaining six lines all assumed a nonrandom distribution at some point in their growth cycles. Mouse L929 cells displayed avoidance behavior, and spaced themselves at regular intervals in a uniform spatial distribution. The five remaining lines (mouse S180, rat C6, hamster CHO, canine MDCK, and human BeWo) formed multicellular clusters, and were distributed aggregatively rather than randomly. Random walk migration can account for the random distribution of SV3T3 cells. Random walk combined with contact inhibition of movement provides a satisfactory explanation for the uniform distribution of L929 cells. Random walk and contact inhibition are incompatible with cell clustering, however. Thus other mechanisms of motility or adhesiveness must contribute to cell clustering. It is possible that random walk and contact inhibition may be less common components of cell movement than generally assumed.

Index Entries

Spatial distribution, by mammalian cells in culture distribution, spatial by mammalian cells in culture mammalian cells, spatial distribution of nonrandom spatial distribution, by mammalian cells 


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Copyright information

© The Humana Press Inc. 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philip Skehan
    • 1
  • Susan J. Friedman
    • 1
  1. 1.The Oncology Research Group, Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of MedicineThe University of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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