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Open Access Short Report

Long term culture of MDCK strains alters chromosome content

Doris Cassio

Author Affiliations

Inserm UMR-S757, Orsay, 91405, France

Université Paris-Sud, Orsay, 91405, France

BMC Research Notes 2013, 6:162  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-6-162

Published: 24 April 2013



The Madin-Darby Canine Kidney (MDCK) cell line and its different strains are widely used as models for studying epithelial simple polarity. Recently Dukes et al. [BMC Cell Biology 12:43, 2011] provided a useful guide to the different MDCK strains, with a directory of where to buy them. The present work focused on chromosome content of MDCK cells, a parameter often disregarded by researchers working with these cells.


Using a general and reliable method for obtaining high yield of metaphasic preparations, the chromosome content of MDCK, MDCK I, MDCK II obtained from reliable sources was determined after maintaining them in culture for various periods of time. Within two months significant changes were observed in the range and the mean number of chromosomes of MDCK I and MDCK II cells. MDCK II cells routinely cultured in six different laboratories were also examined. In some of these cultures the cells have considerably drifted as shown by a high scattering in their number of chromosomes.


These results entitle me to encourage researchers using MDCK cells obtained from reliable sources, to determine their chromosomal content upon receipt, to check this content after several passages, to use this feature to follow the possible drift of these cells, and finally to avoid working with cells maintained for more than two months in culture.

Madin-Darby Canine Kidney (MDCK) cells; MDCK I; MDCK II; Metaphase; Chromosome content; Cell line drift