In Vitro

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 128–142 | Cite as

Contact inhibition in tissue culture

  • M. Abercrombie


Contact inhibition of movement is here defined simply as the stopping of the continued locomotion of a cell in the direction which has produced a collision with another cell; so that one cell does not use another as a substratum. Amongst fibroblasts and epithelial cells this inhibition seems to be brought about by a mechanism which it is suggested consists essentially of a spasm of contraction in the region of the contact, set off by some signal from the cell contacted. Many other kinds of cells show the general phenomenon of contact inhibition; but there is no certainty that they have the same contractile mechanism.

The survey of the literature which this review has entailed suggests that it might be useful to end with four somewhat negative points: (1) Contact inhibition as originally defined is not concerned with mitosis. It may of course become so. (2) Contact inhibition of movement is difficult to analyse reliably without quantitative estimations and deliberate experiments. Anecdotes are not enough. (3) Malignant cells are not properly described as being devoid of contact inhibition. It is suggested that they are defective as compared with their cells of origin. (4) From the point of view invasion interest. It is the heterologous inhibition of tumour cells by normal cells that is relevant.


Sarcoma Cell Normal Epithelium Normal Fibroblast Contact Inhibition Polyoma Virus 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Tissue Culture Association 1970

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Abercrombie
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity CollegeLondonEngland

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