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THLE-2 is an epithelial cell that was isolated from the left lobe of a donor. This cell line was deposited by the National Cancer Institute.
Product category
Human cells
Homo sapiens, human
Cell type
epithelial cell
Liver; Left lobe
3D cell culture
Product format
Storage conditions
Vapor phase of liquid nitrogen
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ATCC determines the biosafety level of a material based on our risk assessment as guided by the current edition of Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is your responsibility to understand the hazards associated with the material per your organization’s policies and procedures as well as any other applicable regulations as enforced by your local or national agencies.

Cells contain SV40 sequences

ATCC highly recommends that appropriate personal protective equipment is always used when handling vials. For cultures that require storage in liquid nitrogen, it is important to note that some vials may leak when submersed in liquid nitrogen and will slowly fill with liquid nitrogen. Upon thawing, the conversion of the liquid nitrogen back to its gas phase may result in the vial exploding or blowing off its cap with dangerous force creating flying debris. Unless necessary, ATCC recommends that these cultures be stored in the vapor phase of liquid nitrogen rather than submersed in liquid nitrogen.

Required Products

These products are vital for the proper use of this item and have been confirmed as effective in supporting functionality. If you use alternative products, the quality and effectiveness of the item may be affected.

Detailed product information


Specific applications

These immortalized human liver cells constitute an in vitro model for pharmacotoxicological studies and for the investigation of etiology and pathogenesis of human hepatocellular carcinoma. ­


Growth properties
TThe THLE-2 (ATCC CRL-2706 and the THLE-3 (ATCC CRL-11233) cell lines were derived from primary normal liver cells by infection with SV40 large T antigen. [RF84749] The virus was generated by introducing a retroviral vector containing the of Bgl I-Hpa I fragment of SV40 T antigen into the amphotropic packaging cell line PA317.
Immortalization method
SV40 large T antigen transformed
near diploid
No, nude mice

[RF84750] THLE-2 and THLE-3 cells express phenotypic characteristics of normal adult liver epithelial cells. They are nontumorigenic when injected into athymic nude mice, have near-diploid karyotypes, and do not express alpha-fetoprotein. [RF84750] THLE-2 and THLE-3 cells metabolize benzo[a]pyrene, N-nitrosodimethylamine, and aflatoxin B1 to their ultimate carcinogenic metabolites that adduct DNA, which indicates functional cytochrome P450 pathways. [RF84750] Other enzymes involved in metabolism of chemical carcinogens, such as epoxide hydrolase, NADPH cytochrome P450 reductase, superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione S-transferases, and glutathione peroxidase are also retained by THLE cells.

[RF84750]  A culture submitted to the ATCC in May of 1989 was found to be contaminated with mycoplasma. Progeny were cured by a 21-day treatment with BM Cycline. The cells were assayed for mycoplasma, by the Hoechst stain, PCR and the standard culture test, after a six-week period following treatment. All tests were negative. The cured cell line is available as ATCC CRL-2706. The original patent deposit is available as ATCC CRL-10149

Technical information
ATCC Technical Services does not have technical information on patent deposits that are not produced or characterized by ATCC. Additional information can be found in the corresponding patent available from the patent holder or with the U.S. and/or international patent office.

Handling information

Unpacking and storage instructions
  1. Check all containers for leakage or breakage.
  2. Remove the frozen cells from the dry ice packaging and immediately place the cells at a temperature below ­-130°C, preferably in liquid nitrogen vapor, until ready for use.
Complete medium
BEGM from Lonza/Clonetics Corporation, Walkersville, MD 21793 (BEGM Bullet Kit; CC3170). The kit includes 500 mL basal medium and separate frozen additives from which we discard the gentamycin/ Amphotericin (GA) and Epinephrine and to which we add extra 5 ng/mL EGF, 70 ng/mL Phosphoethanolamine and 10% fetal bovine serum.
95% Air, 5% CO2
Handling procedure

Note: The flasks used should be precoated with a mixture of 0.01 mg/mL fibronectin, 0.03 mg/mL bovine collagen type I and 0.01 mg/mL bovine serum albumin dissolved in BEBM medium.

To insure the highest level of viability, thaw the vial and initiate the culture as soon as possible upon receipt. If upon arrival, continued storage of the frozen culture is necessary, it should be stored in liquid nitrogen vapor phase and not at -70°C.  Storage at -70°C will result in loss of viability.

  1. Thaw the vial by gentle agitation in a 37°C water bath. To reduce the possibility of contamination, keep the O-ring and cap out of the water.  Thawing should be rapid (approximately 2 minutes).
  2. Remove the vial from the water bath as soon as the contents are thawed, and decontaminate by dipping in or spraying with 70% ethanol. All of the operations from this point on should be carried out under strict aseptic conditions.
  3. Transfer the vial contents to a centrifuge tube containing 9.0 mL complete culture medium and spin at approximately 125 x g for 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. Resuspend cell pellet with the recommended complete medium (see the specific batch information for the culture recommended dilution ratio) and dispense into a 25 cm2 or a 75 cm2 culture flask.  It is important to avoid excessive alkalinity of the medium during recovery of the cells.  It is suggested that, prior to the addition of the vial contents, the culture vessel containing the complete growth medium be placed into the incubator for at least 15 minutes to allow the medium to reach its normal pH (7.0 to 7.6).
  5. Incubate the culture at 37°C in a suitable incubator.  A 5% CO2 in air atmosphere is recommended if using the medium described on this product sheet.
Subculturing procedure
Volumes used in this protocol are for 75 cm2 flask; proportionally reduce or increase amount of dissociation medium for culture vessels of other sizes.
Note: The flasks used should be precoated with a mixture of 0.01 mg/mL fibronectin, 0.03 mg/mL bovine collagen type I and 0.01 mg/mL bovine serum albumin dissolved in BEBM medium. 

  1. Remove and discard culture medium.
  2. Add a fresh 0.05% trypsin-EDTA solution  (2.0 – 3.0 mls for a T75 flask) to cover the cells, rinse and remove most of the trypsin solution leaving a thin coating behind..
  3. Allow the culture to sit at room temperature (or 37°C) until the cells detach and observe cells under an inverted microscope until cell layer is dispersed (usually within 5 to 15 minutes).
    Note: To avoid clumping do not agitate the cells by hitting or shaking the flask while waiting for the cells to detach. Cells that are difficult to detach may be placed at 37°C to facilitate dispersal.
  4. Neutralize the trypsin with 0.1% soybean trypsin inhibitor and aspirate cells by gently pipetting. Remove the dissociation agent by gentle centrifugation (150 x g to 400 x g for 8-12 minutes) and resuspend cells in fresh complete growth medium. 
  5. Add appropriate aliquots of the cell suspension to new culture vessels.
  6. Incubate cultures at 37°C. 
  7. A 0.05% Trypsin-EDTA solution (GIBCO cat# 25300-054) is recommended for dissociation. Neutralize with a 0.1% Soybean Trypsin inhibitor solution (ATCC 30-2104).

Subculture Ratio: 1:3 to 1:6
Medium Renewal: Two to three times a week.
Note: For more information on enzymatic dissociation and subculturing of cell lines consult Chapter 10 in Culture of Animal Cells, a manual of Basic Technique by R. Ian Freshney, 3rd edition, published by Alan R. Liss, N.Y., 1994.
Reagents for cryopreservation
Complete growth medium supplemented with 5% (v/v) DMSO (ATCC 4-X)

Quality control specifications

Mycoplasma contamination
Not detected
STR profiling
Amelogenin: X,Y
CSF1PO: 11,13
D13S317: 8,12
D16S539: 11,13
D5S818: 11,13
D7S820: 10,12
TH01: 7,9.3
TPOX: 8,11
vWA: 16,17
D3S1358: 14,15
D21S11: 30,32.2
D18S51: 13,16
Penta_E: 12,13
Penta_D: 10,13
D8S1179: 13
FGA: 22,24
D19S433: 14
D2S1338: 17,23


Deposited as
National Cancer Institute
Patent depository
This material was deposited with the ATCC Patent Depository to fulfill U.S. or international patent requirements. This material may not have been produced or characterized by ATCC.  As an International Depository Authority (IDA) for patent deposits, ATCC is required to complete viability testing only at time of initial deposit of patent material. Patent deposits are made available on behalf of the Depositor when the pertinent U.S. or international patent is issued, but material may not be used to infringe the patent claims.
Patent number

Legal disclaimers

Intended use
This product is intended for laboratory research use only. It is not intended for any animal or human therapeutic use, any human or animal consumption, or any diagnostic use.

The product is provided 'AS IS' and the viability of ATCC® products is warranted for 30 days from the date of shipment, provided that the customer has stored and handled the product according to the information included on the product information sheet, website, and Certificate of Analysis. For living cultures, ATCC lists the media formulation and reagents that have been found to be effective for the product. While other unspecified media and reagents may also produce satisfactory results, a change in the ATCC and/or depositor-recommended protocols may affect the recovery, growth, and/or function of the product. If an alternative medium formulation or reagent is used, the ATCC warranty for viability is no longer valid.  Except as expressly set forth herein, no other warranties of any kind are provided, express or implied, including, but not limited to, any implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, manufacture according to cGMP standards, typicality, safety, accuracy, and/or noninfringement.


This product is intended for laboratory research use only. It is not intended for any animal or human therapeutic use, any human or animal consumption, or any diagnostic use. Any proposed commercial use is prohibited without a license from ATCC.

While ATCC uses reasonable efforts to include accurate and up-to-date information on this product sheet, ATCC makes no warranties or representations as to its accuracy. Citations from scientific literature and patents are provided for informational purposes only. ATCC does not warrant that such information has been confirmed to be accurate or complete and the customer bears the sole responsibility of confirming the accuracy and completeness of any such information.

This product is sent on the condition that the customer is responsible for and assumes all risk and responsibility in connection with the receipt, handling, storage, disposal, and use of the ATCC product including without limitation taking all appropriate safety and handling precautions to minimize health or environmental risk. As a condition of receiving the material, the customer agrees that any activity undertaken with the ATCC product and any progeny or modifications will be conducted in compliance with all applicable laws, regulations, and guidelines. This product is provided 'AS IS' with no representations or warranties whatsoever except as expressly set forth herein and in no event shall ATCC, its parents, subsidiaries, directors, officers, agents, employees, assigns, successors, and affiliates be liable for indirect, special, incidental, or consequential damages of any kind in connection with or arising out of the customer's use of the product. While reasonable effort is made to ensure authenticity and reliability of materials on deposit, ATCC is not liable for damages arising from the misidentification or misrepresentation of such materials.

Please see the material transfer agreement (MTA) for further details regarding the use of this product. The MTA is available at

This material is cited in a US and/or international patent and may not be used to infringe the claims. Depending on the wishes of the Depositor, ATCC may be required to inform the Depositor of the party to which the material was furnished.

Permits & Restrictions

Import Permit for the State of Hawaii

If shipping to the U.S. state of Hawaii, you must provide either an import permit or documentation stating that an import permit is not required. We cannot ship this item until we receive this documentation. Contact the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA), Plant Industry Division, Plant Quarantine Branch to determine if an import permit is required.


Frequently Asked Questions


Curated Citations

Harris CC, et al. Human liver epithelial cells. US Patent 5,759,765 dated Jun 2 1998

Pfeifer AM, et al. Simian virus 40 large tumor antigen-immortalized normal human liver epithelial cells express hepatocyte characteristics and metabolize chemical carcinogens. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 90: 5123-5127, 1993. PubMed: 7685115

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