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What is the difference between finite and continuous cell lines?

Posted July 22, 2020


The differences between finite and continuous cell lines are as follows:

  • Life span: Finite cell lines can undergo only a limited number of population doublings, whereas continuous cells are capable of an unlimited number of population doublings, often referred to as immortal cell culture.
  • Type of transformation: Finite cell lines undergo normal genetic transformations, while continuous cell lines have undergone transformations that alter their growth into immortal stages.
  • Cloning efficiency: Finite cell lines generally have a low cloning efficiency, whilst continuous cell lines have a high cloning efficiency.
  • Growth rate: Finite cell lines have a slow growth rate while continuous cell lines have a fast growth rate.
  • Yield: The yield of finite cell lines is usually low, while continuous cell lines produce high yields.
  • Nutrient requirement: Finite cell lines have a high nutrient requirement, whereas continuous cell lines have a low nutrient requirement.
  • Function of parent cells: Finite cells line may retain special function of the parent cells, which are usually lost by the continuous cell lines.
  • Markers: Finite cell lines possess tissue-specific markers, while continuous cell lines possess chromosomal, enzymatic, and antigenic markers.
  • Type of cell cultures: Finite cell lines are grown in monolayer cultures, whereas continuous cell lines can be grown in both monolayer and suspension cultures.
Additional resources

Cell Cycle and Proliferation

Assay development services

Berg, J. M., Tymoczko, J. L., & Stryer, L. (2008). Biochemistry (Loose-Leaf). Macmillan.

Yao, T., & Asayama, Y. (2017). Animal?cell culture media: History, characteristics, and current issues. Reproductive medicine and biology, 16(2), 99-117.

Butler, M. (2004). Animal cell culture and technology. Taylor & Francis.