Effect of sodium butyrate on primary cultures of adult rat hepatocytes

Gary L. Engelmann, Jeffrey L. Staecker, Arlan G. Richardson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Sodium butyrate, at millimolar concentrations, seems to mediate or initiate multiple effects on many mammalian cells in culture. Although many transformed cell lines respond to butyrate treatment with acquisition of normal cellular characteristics, the effect of butyrate on a normal cell type, the parenchymal hepatocyte, has not been studied. Serum-free primary cultures of adult rat hepatocytes maintain many adult characteristics, yet after several days in culture a loss of adult characteristics occurs while fetal characteristics are often reexpressed. Therefore, we investigated whether butyrate treatment would improve the morphologic and biochemical characteristics of cultured hepatocytes. Exposure to 5 m M butyrate for 3 d did not affect hepatocyte viability or morphology but retarded the progressive decline in cytochrome P-450 levels and 5′-nucleotidase activity. The spontaneous increase in alkaline phosphatase activity was reduced and the induction of tyrosine aminotransferase was inhibited after 3 d in culture. The fetal liver characteristic, gamma glutamyltranspeptidase, was not affected by butyrate treatment. Results of this study suggest that butyrate represents a nontoxic compound capable of improving the maintenance of cell culture characteristics of adult rat hepatocytes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)86-92
Number of pages7
JournalIn Vitro Cellular & Developmental Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 1987


  • P-450
  • butyrate
  • cultured hepatocytes
  • differentiated functions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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