In Vitro Studies of Fibroblast Aging: Growth Factors, Collagen and Glycosaminoglycan Synthesis — a Review

  • D. O. Schachtschabel


Based on the studies of Carrel [9, 10] and Ebeling [17] with fibroblasts derived from heart explants and other tissues of chick embryos, it was assumed for about 50 years (until the late 1960s) that in vitro cultured cells proliferate indefinitely. However, if one applies rigorous culture conditions with defined culture media, the findings of Carrel and Ebeling cannot be reproduced. Actually, it was shown that chick fibroblasts have a limited life span of about 23 population doublings [25]. Immortal cell lines like L cells, HeLa, C3H, NIH3T3, and BHK 21 have abnormal properties frequently characteristic of cancer cells (for discussion see [26]). The most likely explanation for Carrel’s findings appears to be the feeding technique, as was suggested by Hayflick [26]. Thus, Carrel and Ebeling used a culture medium composed of 2 volumes of chicken plasma and 1 volume of “chicken embryo juice”. The latter was a supernatant prepared by squeezing chick embryos, followed by filtration through gauze and low-speed centrifugation. The supernatant probably contained still-living cells. Thus, the “immortality” of the Carrell cultures was the result of permanent feedings of the cultures with viable, mortal fibroblasts.


Heparan Sulfate Human Fibroblast Senescent Cell Trabecular Meshwork Population Doubling Level 
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  • D. O. Schachtschabel

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