A computational modelling framework to quantify the effects of passaging cell lines

Wang Jin, Catherine J. Penington, Scott W. McCue, Matthew J. Simpson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
12 Downloads (Pure)


In vitro cell culture is routinely used to grow and supply a sufficiently large number of cells for various types of cell biology experiments. Previous experimental studies report that cell characteristics evolve as the passage number increases, and various cell lines can behave differently at high passage numbers. To provide insight into the putative mechanisms that might give rise to these differences, we perform in silico experiments using a random walk model to mimic the in vitro cell culture process. Our results show that it is possible for the average proliferation rate to either increase or decrease as the passaging process takes place, and this is due to a competition between the initial heterogeneity and the degree to which passaging damages the cells. We also simulate a suite of scratch assays with cells from near-homogeneous and heterogeneous cell lines, at both high and low passage numbers. Although it is common in the literature to report experimental results without disclosing the passage number, our results show that we obtain significantly different closure rates when performing in silico scratch assays using cells with different passage numbers. Therefore, we suggest that the passage number should always be reported to ensure that the experiment is as reproducible as possible. Furthermore, our modelling also suggests some avenues for further experimental examination that could be used to validate or refine our simulation results.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0181941
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jul 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2017. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


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