A human hepatoma cell line, HuH-7, which was established from a hepatocellular carcinoma, was found to replicate continuously in a chemically defined medium when the medium was supplemented with Na2SeO3. The cells grew better in this medium than in serum-containing medium without any adaptation period. Other established human hepatoma and hepatoblastoma cell lines, HuH-6 cl-5, PLC/PRF/5, huH-1, and huH-4, also grew in the defined medium. Although HLEC-1 cells failed to proliferate continuously with Na2SeO3 alone, they grew if a cell-free conditioned medium from HuH-7 cells was added to the medium. These cell lines, except the HLEC-1 cell line, produced the following human plasma proteins among those examined: albumin, prealbumin, α1-antitrypsin, ceruloplasmin, fibrinogen, fibronectin, haptoglobin, hemopexin, β-lipoprotein, α2-macroglobulin, β2-microglobulin, transferrin, Complement Components 3 and 4, and α1-fetoprotein. Beside plasma proteins, the media from HuH-7, HuH-6 cl-5, PLC/PRF/5, and huH-1 contained anti-carcinoembryonic antigen-reactive proteins, and those from PLC/PRF/5, huH-1, and huH-4 medium contained hepatitis B surface antigen. These proteins were detected during periods of serial cultivation over 9 months under the above culture conditions. The hepatoma cell lines grown in the fully defined synthetic medium may provide a new approach for investigating the growth and metabolism of human hepatoma cells in vitro.

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