The **key difference** between finite and continuous cell lines is that the **finite cell lines undergo a definite number of cell divisions while the continuous cell lines undergo an indefinite number of cell divisions.**

Use of primary cell cultures varies according to research purposes. Also, transforming the primary cell cultures into cell lines is necessary to maintain them. Creation of a cell line is possible by sub-culturing the primary cell culture. Furthermore, there are two main types of cell lines depending on their lifespan. Namely, they are finite cell lines and continuous cell lines. Finite cell lines are cell lines that have a definite number of divisions. Consequently, they undergo senescence after a pre-defined number of cell divisions. On the other hand, continuous cell lines are cell lines that have the ability to divide indefinitely. These are immortal cells. Thus, Finite and Continuous cell lines differ from each other mainly by the number of divisions.

### CONTENTS

1. Overview and Key Difference

2. What are Finite Cell Lines

3. What are Continuous Cell Lines

4. Similarities Between Finite and Continuous Cell Lines

5. Side by Side Comparison – Finite vs Continuous Cell Lines in Tabular Form

6. Summary

## What are Finite Cell Lines?

Finite cell lines are the primary cell cultures that undergo a definite number of cell divisions before their senescence. They undergo programmed cell death, which is a natural phenomenon. Moreover, finite cell lines are anchorage-dependent cells. They grow in monolayer cultures. Thus, the culture medium used to maintain primary cell cultures is vital for its survival. Also, it contains all the necessary nutrients for cells. In addition, all the optimal conditions should be there for the primary cell lines to grow well.

Besides, the lifespan of finite cell lines depends on the type of cell, type of species, type of cell lineage and the cell culture conditions. Thus, different finite cell lines have a different number of divisions. Usually, the finite cell lines divide about 20 – 100 times before senescence. In the case of humans, human finite cell lines divide about 50 – 100 times before senescence.

## What are Continuous Cell Lines?

Continuous cell lines are cell lines that have the ability to stay immortal. Therefore, these cell lines grow indefinitely. During the primary cell culturing, the cells convert into immortal cells called transformants. The transformed cells gain the special ability to stay immortal and become tumorigenic. The continuous cell lines are not anchorage-dependent, and they have rapid cell division rates. These cell lines most often exist as suspension cultures.

Moreover, during the culturing of continuous cell lines, it is necessary to supply medium constituents continuously and to change the media. Also, contaminations should be minimal during the continuous cell line growth. Furthermore, the most often, the preparation of the continuous cell lines is by mutating the cells with carcinogens or infecting the cells with oncogenic viruses. These transform the cells into immortal types.

Above all, the continuous cell lines are said to be more advantageous than the finite cell lines as it’s possible to maintain the continuous cell lines for a longer period of time.

## What are the Similarities Between Finite and Continuous Cell Lines?

- Both cell lines are derived from primary cell cultures.
- Also, both, Finite and Continuous Cell Lines, are used in research purposes for in vitro studies.

## What is the Difference Between Finite and Continuous Cell Lines?

Finite and continuous cell lines are two cell lines that we use in research projects. The key difference between finite and continuous cell lines is their lifespan. Finite cell lines have a limited lifespan while continuous cell lines have an indefinite lifespan. This is due to the fact that finite cell lines have a predefined or preprogrammed lifespan that restricts the number of cell divisions they can undergo. But, continuous cell lines do not have a programmed number of cell divisions. Consequently, continuous cell lines can undergo indefinite cell divisions. At the end of the cell divisions, finite cell lines lose the ability to proliferate. As a result, they are subjected to senescence. In contrast, continuous cell lines do not lose their ability to proliferate. Hence, they divide indefinitely. Therefore, this also contributes to the difference between finite and continuous cell lines.

Also, we can identify some more differences between the two. The below infographic gives full detils of the difference between finite and continuous cell lines.

## Summary – Finite vs Continuous Cell Lines

In biotechnological research, it is possible to develop cell lines using an appropriate culture medium. And, these cell lines are of two main types. Namely, they are finite and continuous cell lines. Primary cell culture is the starting culture in both cell lines. However, the finite cell lines have a definite number of cell divisions. It has about 20 -100 cell divisions before undergoing senescence. But, the continuous cell lines have an indefinite number of cell divisions. Furthermore, the continuous cell cultures are mostly oncogenic and when preparing them, it is necessary to transform the cells into immortal cells. Thus, this is the difference between finite and continuous cell lines.

##### Reference:

1.“Introduction to Cell Culture.” Thermo Fisher Scientific – LK. Available here

Image Courtesy:

1.”19970887168″ by Libertas Academica (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

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