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Vol. 3, No. 1, 1993
Issue release date: 1993
Cell Physiol Biochem 1993;3:42–55

Differentiation of Madin-Darby Canine Kidney Cells Depends on Cell Culture Conditions

Kersting U. · Schwab A. · Treidtel M. · Pfaller W. · Gstraunthaler G. · Steigner W. · Oberleithner H.
Department of Physiology, University of Würzburg, FRG

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We used Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells as a model to study changes in renal epithelial cell structure and function induced by different environments. We identiñed two cell types, MDCK-1 and MDCK-2, that differ in structure, function and lectin binding. MDCK cells differentiate into MDCK-1 cells in acid and hypertonic culture media, whereas MDCK-2 cells develop in alkaline and hypotonic culture media in subconfluent and young confluent monolayers. Fully differentiated MDCK-1 and MDCK-2 cells cannot reverse their differentiation state in aged confluent monolayers. Relative sodium conductance is increased 48-fold in MDCK-1 cells. MDCK-1 cells acidify their incubation medium, whereas MDCK-2 cells acidify dome fluid. Hypotonic stress further decreases HCO3 concentration in dome fluid. Dome formation increases in higher cell passages; concomitantly the ratio of MDCK-2:MDCK-1 cells increases. Cloned MDCK cell populations become increasingly heterogenous with increasing passage number. We conclude that differentiation in MDCK cells is determined by cell culture conditions.

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