Suspension vs. plateable hepatocytes, the importance of a good timing

Suspension vs. plateable hepatocytes, the importance of timing 

Choices never end. Once we decide to use primary hepatocytes over immortalized cell lines, should we use suspension or plateable primary hepatocytes?

There is no short answer; it depends. But it depends on what?

  • The duration of the experiment
  • The specific assay
  • The desired outcome

Suspension hepatocytes: the short-term ally

Suspension hepatocytes are typically used in short-term experiments and assays where hepatocyte functionality is the primary focus. Research has demonstrated that cytochrome P450(CYP)-dependent activities are more stable in suspension hepatocytes during the first six hours of incubation than in plateable hepatocytes. Non-attached hepatocytes retain higher metabolic activity due to their native three-dimensional (3D) structure. This system presents the advantage of reducing the time required for preparation (cell plating and cell scraping are unnecessary) and incubation.

Time is a limiting factor when using suspension hepatocytes. These cells survive for about 4–6 hours. The model is unsuitable for long-term biotransformation and toxicity studies or when pretreatment of the cells over an extended period is necessary.

Plateable hepatocytes: the long-term partner

On the contrary, plateable hepatocytes are designed for long-term in vitro culture and are suitable for drug toxicity testing, drug screening, and hepatocyte-based disease modelling.

Plateable primary hepatocytes may lose some metabolic functions and phenotypic characteristics due to two-dimensional (2D) culture conditions, which may not fully recapitulate the liver behaviour.

Nevertheless, long-term cell culture allows the introduction of 3D cell culture systems combining the cells with biomaterials and incorporating non-parenchymal cells, recreating complex environments inspired by the liver niche.

Find at our portfolio what you are looking for

BeCYTES offers plateable (fresh or cryopreserved) and suspension cryopreserved human primary hepatocytes for whatever assay you need to perform.

We specialise in cell isolation and its characterisation for research purposes.  We are committed to improving people’s lives and becoming a key player in connecting global health challenges with researchers’ needs by providing primary cells and tissue sourcing services.

Find any type of liver cell you are looking for, from primary hepatocytes to non-parenchymal cells!



Blanchard N, Richert L, Notter B, et al. Impact of serum on clearance predictions obtained from suspensions and primary cultures of rat hepatocytes. European Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. 2004;23(2):189-199. doi:10.1016/j.ejps.2004.07.007

Jouin D, Blanchard N, Alexandre E, et al. Cryopreserved human hepatocytes in suspension are a convenient high throughput tool for the prediction of metabolic clearance. European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics. 2006;63(3):347-355. doi:10.1016/j.ejpb.2006.01.014

Phillips IR, Shephard EA. Cytochrome P450 Protocols. Second ed. Humana press; 2006.