Why are fibroblast used so commonly in cell biology?

Why are fibroblast used so commonly in cell biology?

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Fibroblasts are some of the most commonly used cells in cell biology. What are the properties of those cells which makes them commonly used ?

From the comments by Shigeta and WYSIWYG :-

1.They are easy to get and they can be preserved and used over time.

2.They can be differentiated easily.

3.Due to historic reasons - someone getting lucky and finding a protocol for these cells.

  • Fibroblasts are cells that generate any connective tissue that the body needs, as they can move throughout the body and can undergo mitosis to create new tissues.
  • Protein fibers run throughout connective tissue, providing stability and support they can be either collagen, elastic, or reticular fibers.
  • Loose connective tissue is not particularly tough, but surrounds blood vessels and provides support to internal organs.
  • Fibrous connective tissue, which is composed of parallel bundles of collagen fibers, is found in the dermis, tendons, and ligaments.
  • Hyaline cartilage forms the skeleton of the embryo before it is transformed into bone it is found in the adult body at the tip of the nose and around the ends of the long bones, where it prevents friction at the joints.
  • Fibrocartilage is the strongest of the connective tissues it is found in regions of the body that experience large amounts of stress and require a high degree of shock absorption, such as between the vertebrae.
  • chondrocyte: a cell that makes up the tissue of cartilage
  • motile: having the power to move spontaneously
  • fibroblast: a cell found in connective tissue that produces fibers, such as collagen

Structure of Granulation Tissue

The extracellular matrix of granulation tissue is made by cells called fibroblasts. The fibroblasts form type III collagen, a form of the protein collagen that is found in soft tissues in the body. It is eventually replaced by type I collagen, which is a sturdier type of collagen that is also found in bones, tendons, and organs. Immune cells such as leukocytes (white blood cells) are another type of cell found in granulation tissue. They work to get rid of destroyed cells and also to protect the body against pathogens such as viruses and bacteria. The skin provides a layer of defense against pathogens, and during injury, that barrier is broken. Therefore, it is extremely important for leukocytes to be present to defend the body, and it is also important that a wound heals quickly so that the skin barrier is once again complete.

Additionally, blood vessels must form to provide oxygen and nutrients to both the newly formed cells and to the cells that are helping to create new cells. The process of forming a network of blood vessels is called vascularization, and it is accomplished via the outgrowth of blood vessels already in existence.


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Fibroblast, the principal active cell of connective tissue. Fibroblasts are large, flat, elongated (spindle-shaped) cells possessing processes extending out from the ends of the cell body. The cell nucleus is flat and oval. Fibroblasts produce tropocollagen, which is the forerunner of collagen, and ground substance, an amorphous gel-like matrix that fills the spaces between cells and fibres in connective tissue.

Fibroblasts appear to play an important role in wound healing, and this activity is thought to be regulated by cells known as fibrocytes residing in the tissue stroma. Following tissue injury, fibroblasts migrate to the site of damage, where they deposit new collagen and facilitate the healing process.


In the foetus, the skeleton starts as a branching rod of cells or blastema [7], within which foci of chondrocytes develop to determine the sites and shapes of bones. A continuous envelope of cells that express the hyaluronan receptor, CD44, at high level, surrounds these cartilaginous foci [8]. Where this perichondrial envelope lies between cartilage foci, it is known as the interzone.

An interzone at the site of a synovial joint detaches itself from the cartilage to become synovium. In sharks, that is the end of the story but, in higher vertebrates, perichondrial cells create another internal surface. Together with blood vessels, they invade the cartilage shaft to create bone marrow spaces, populated by two fibroblast-like cells: UDPGD-positive osteoblastic cells, and VCAM-1-positive cells that support leucocyte maturation (`nurse cells') [9,10].

There are further complexities but, in simple terms, synovial fibroblasts appear to derive from a CD44 + perichondrial stock that also gives rise to bone marrow stromal cells [11]. There is also the interesting implication that the bone marrow evolved in bony fish by putting the functional properties of synovial fibroblast precursors to new advantage.

6 Main Cells of Areolar Tissues | Connective Tissues | Cells | Biology

The following points highlight the six main cells of areolar tissue along with its function. They are:- 1. Fibroblasts Cells 2. Histiocytes Cells 3. Basophil Cells 4. Plasma Cells 5. Pigment Cells 6. Mast Cells.

1. Fibroblasts Cells (Fibrocytes):

Fibroblast is an active cell. Fibrocyte is an inactive one. These cells are usually elongated containing an oval nucle­us and are often branching. The younger cells are more rounded, whereas the older ones are more elongated. They remain upon and in between the fibres. When they lie upon the surface of an aponeurosis, they are arranged side by side and look like an endothelium.

In the cornea the fibroblasts remain joined together through their branches. Fibroblasts are non-motile and are not phagocytic.

i. Produce white fibrous tissue under normal and pathological conditions.

ii. They are also responsible for the formation of amorphous ground substance.

iii. It takes a great part in replacement fibrosis during repair of inflammation. Following tissue injury there is an increase in cytoplasmic ribonucleoprotein (RNP) granules in fibroblast, observed electron microscopically.

2. Histiocytes Cells (Clasmatocytes):

These cells belong to reticulo-endothelial (R.E.) system and have functions similar to them. They are large and irregular containing one or more nuclei and a basophilic cytoplasm. They are actively motile and phagocytic and engulf foreign substance and bacteria.

The proteolytic enzymes present in the cells destroy the digestible ingested materials.

3. Basophil (Basiphil) Cells:

They are large, spherical or oval cells, actively motile and containing a single nucleus and a granular basophilic cytoplasm. They are commonly found in those places where fat is being deposited. Occasionally they burrow into the blood vessels and appear as the basophilic leucocytes (mast cells) in the blood stream. Their functions are same as that of the mast cells.

4. Plasma Cells:

These are large, oval cells with non-granular basophilic cytoplasm stained by Leishman’s method and a round eccentric nucleus. The chromatin in the nucleus is arranged like the spokes of a wheel. These cells have an abundance of granular endoplasmic reticulum and so can be stained with pyronins (pyroninophilia) which demonstrate RNA. Fluorescent antibody techniques indicate that these cells form antibodies.

They help in synthesis of γ-globulin.

5. Pigment Cells:

Some of the connective tissue cells are found to possess pigment granules and such cells are more common in the skin, choroid coat of the eye, pia mater, etc. the black pigment is called melanin and the cells, melanocytes. In some lower vertebrates, the pigment may be yellowish and such cells are called the xanthophores.

The pigment granules generally remain collected round the nucleus. But change of environment, i.e., light, moisture, etc., causes dispersal of the pigment granules out into the cytoplasm. Due to this mechanism certain animals can change their skin colour and use this device as a protective camouflage. This redistribution of the pigment is caused by a hormone secreted by the posterior pituitary (melanocyte-stimulating hormone, MSH).

6. Mast Cells:

They are large round or oval cells. The cytoplasm contains coarse granules which can be stained with basic dyes, the nucleus being stained pale. Under electron microscope, little granular endoplasmic reticulum or free RNA has been observed inside the cells.

Mast Cells Probably Elaborate:

(a) The anticoagulant heparin,

(b) Probable synaptic mediator histamine, and

(c) A vasoconstrictor serotonin.

The areolar tissue is distributed in varying amounts throughout the body. It occupies the intercellular spaces of other connective tissue and serves as a support and also as a packing material. The cells in it serve the purpose as described above.

Why cell biology is so important?

Have you ever been ill? Even if it was a ‘tummy bug’ it will have been your cells that were affected by the poisonous chemicals or toxins from bacteria cells in the bad food.

You may know of someone who has been ill with a disease or disorder such as meningitis, malaria, diabetes, a type of cancer, cystic fibrosis, or Alzheimer’s disease. All these diseases and disorders are caused by problems at a cell or molecular level. Physical damage such as a burn or broken bone also causes damage at cell level.

By understanding how cells work in healthy and diseased states, cell biologists working in animal, plant and medical science will be able to develop new vaccines, more effective medicines, plants with improved qualities and through increased knowledge a better understanding of how all living things live.

Eventually it will be possible to produce a ‘health forecast’ by analysing your database of genetic and cell information. Using this you will be able to take more control over your health in a preventive way.

But cell biology is not just about disease. It has greatly assisted the human fertility programme. DNA testing has been used in archaeology to provide evidence that a living person is related to a long dead ancestor.

In plant science it has been used to show that two plants that look different have the same genetic origins.

Forensic medicine uses cell biology and DNA fingerprinting to help solve murders and assaults. Neither the courts of law nor the criminals can escape the importance of cell biology.

Biotechnology uses techniques and information from cell biology to genetically modify crops to produce alternative characteristics to clone plants and animals to produce and ensure high quality food is available at lower costs to produce purer medicines and in time organs for the many people who need transplants.
Cell biology is about all this and can make an exciting career.

It is also important that everyone feels informed about how the increase in knowledge about cell biology could affect him or her and society in general. Society will have to make informed decisions about such things as growing organs for transplanting into humans and, in those areas where vitamin ‘A’ deficiency causes blindness, growing rice modified to produce the vitamin.

A basic understanding of cell biology including genetics will be as important as having some knowledge about computers and the Internet.

If you needed a kidney transplant and no donated human organ were available, would you refuse to have one from a pig specially developed to provide organs for humans?

You are a rice farmer and a parent. You know that each year more than one million children die and another 124 million are made more susceptible to measles and diarrhoea due to shortage of vitamin A. You have heard about a new strain of genetically modified rice producing vitamin A is available. Would you grow it and let your family eat it?

Why EDTA in trypsin? - (Oct/24/2006 )

EDTA has the same effect as trypsin , i mean we can detach cells using EDTA alone and its much gentler on cells than trypsin , so i think its added to trypsin to enhance its effect and i read also that it can decrease the clumbing of cells.
hope this help.

Actually trypsin/EDTA is a combined method for detaching cells. Trypsin cuts the adhesion proteins in cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions (i don't remember the specific site), and EDTA is a calcium chelator, which integrins needs to interact with other proteins for cell adhesion-- no calcium, no cell adhesion. And that's why EDTA treatment is gentler than trypsin.

Tissue culture media contains Calcium and Magnesium ions, foetal calf serum contains proteins that are trypsin inhibitors. Both Mg2+/Ca2+ INHIBIT TRYPSIN. The reason why we use PBS without Ca2+/Mg2+ to wash the cells prior to trypsinisation is to reduce the concentration of Divalent cations and proteins that inhibit trypsin action. EDTA is a Calcium chelator which will "mop" up the remaining divalent cations. If trypsin is allowed to stay in contact with the cells for too long a time, cell viabilty will reduce.
This should be the first principle of cell culture that you learn on day one. There are only very few cells that will detach with EDTA treatment alone.

for EDTA:
i remember when working with plant tissue culture, we used EDTA as a chelating agent in order to keep Mg and other elements in suspension so the plant tissue can easily absorb them.

agree with rhombus ' explanation

Tissue culture media contains Calcium and Magnesium ions, foetal calf serum contains proteins that are trypsin inhibitors. Both Mg2+/Ca2+ INHIBIT TRYPSIN. The reason why we use PBS without Ca2+/Mg2+ to wash the cells prior to trypsinisation is to reduce the concentration of Divalent cations and proteins that inhibit trypsin action. EDTA is a Calcium chelator which will "mop" up the remaining divalent cations. If trypsin is allowed to stay in contact with the cells for too long a time, cell viabilty will reduce.
This should be the first principle of cell culture that you learn on day one. There are only very few cells that will detach with EDTA treatment alone.

thankx a million rhombus and by the way i think these days no one teach as used before , i am talking about my case as i have been told to do the protocol, that i get it from net searching,and i am looking by myself for all the answers in the net and here in the forum.
really thankx again.

i edited my post to give a suggestion to Rhombus , if u have time can u start a thread about cell culture questions and answers?

I have to say that this is very common place these days. Protocols are handed down and first principles are sometimes forgotten. I teach cell and tissue culture to all staff in my university department who want to learn from first principles. 9 times out of 10 the staff in question have had "training" of some description, but their ignorance is always apparent. They invariably come to me for help after having problems in their specific labs. For example :-

" I think their is a problem with my cells, they are not growing very fast "

" I think the tissue culture room is contaminated in some way, my cells are contaminated "

" I don't know what's wrong but my media is a funny colour "

All the above are easily handled but are regular events in most labs. I learned in the 1970's how to do cell culture on the bench with a bunsen burner, no HEPA filters and all re-usuable glass culture flasks and pipettes. It's just common sense.

yes, basics are usually ignored.

A bit off topic maybe (I agree completely with Rhombus on the fact function of EDTA and Trypsin), but most people nowadays aren't trained too much.

People just buy kits and buffer solutions without thinking what's in it, and what it all does. It's getting worse, because companies are making it "easier" by selling ready to use mixes (for instance for a PCR, you only have to add your primers and template and you're ready to go, it's automated hot start and all, so you hardly have to know what you're doing and what's in your tubes to do a succesfull PCR).
People hardly know how to work sterile, don't know how to measure pH correctly. Makes it a lot harder if you need to troubleshoot any kind of reaction or process.

A PhD-student working here is working with DNA quite a lot, and she didn't even know what A260/280 ratio was and why it was important.

So, everybody: if you are teaching someone techniques (whatever they be), try to explain everything there is to know about the technique, no matter what "easy" technique it is for you (and experienced performer of it).

This is not meant to offend anybody, if you're not taught anything, you do the right thing by asking questions and I would urge everybody to try to find some answers by "googling" them, but if need be to come and ask them here.

I agree with both Rhombus and vairus that many students and technicians do not know the underlying theory behind the experiments.

It is fine, if they get the expected results. However, when it come to troubleshooting, they do not know what to do and may expect their mentors/supervisors to solve it.

I am currently a second year PhD student, my PI expects results and don't care whether I understand the theory. he opposed to reading.

HeLa cell

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HeLa cell, a cancerous cell belonging to a strain continuously cultured since its isolation in 1951 from a patient suffering from cervical carcinoma. The designation HeLa is derived from the name of the patient, Henrietta Lacks. HeLa cells were the first human cell line to be established and have been widely used in laboratory studies, especially in research on viruses, cancer, and human genetics.

HeLa cells are a common source of cross-contamination of other cell lines and a suspected cause of numerous instances of cell line misidentification. The HeLa cell genome has also been shown to be highly unstable, housing numerous genomic rearrangements (e.g., abnormal numbers of chromosomes) in a phenomenon known as chromothripsis.

This article was most recently revised and updated by Kara Rogers, Senior Editor.

MiRNAs: Nanomachines That Micromanage the Pathophysiology of Diabetes Mellitus

Shilpy Sharma , . Jeetender Chugh , in Advances in Clinical Chemistry , 2017 Model Systems for DN

Primary cell cultures as well as immortalized cell lines have been employed to investigate the development of DN in the kidneys. While on one hand conditionally immortalized podocyte cell lines and immortalized glomerular endothelial cells are used, murine mesangial cells (MMCs) and proximal tubular cells are relatively easier to isolate and culture as primary cells. In addition to these, a number of commercially available cell lines like normal rat kidney (NRK-52E) that resembles the renal fibroblast cells LLC-PK1 cells that possess properties of proximal tubular cells and Madin–Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells that can be used to mimic epithelial cells of distal nephron have been in use [57,58] .

Watch the video: Janet Iwasa Harvard: Animating Cell Biology (October 2022).