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AGS Cells - Exploration of Gastric Adenocarcinoma AGS Cells in Cancer Studies

AGS cells constitute a human gastric adenocarcinoma cell line that is widely used in biomedical research. Particularly it is employed to study gastric cancer biology including tumor growth, development, progression, and therapeutic interventions. Additionally, it is used to investigate host-pathogen interactions.

This article will discuss the fundamentals of gastric epithelial AGS cells. Particularly, it will cover:

  1. General characteristics and origin of AGS cells
  2. Culturing information about AGS cell line
  3. AGS cell line: Advantages & Limitations
  4. Applications of AGS cells
  5. Research publications on AGS cell line
  6. Resources for AGS cell line: Protocols, Videos, and More


1.      General characteristics and origin of AGS cells

Knowing about a cell line's origin and general characteristics is necessary before you start working with it. This section will cover the following: What are AGS cells? What is the origin of the AGS cell? What is the morphology of the AGS cancer cell line?

  • AGS cell line was derived from the stomach tissue of a 54-year-old Caucasian woman with gastric adenocarcinoma. It was isolated in 1979 [1].
  • AGS cells have epithelial-like morphology.
  • The gastric epithelial AGS cells are hyperdiploid. The modal chromosome number for AGS cells is 49, which occurs in almost 60% of cells. Polyploidy also occurs in approximately 3.6% of cells.

Carcinoma of the stomach in cross section under the microscope.

2.      Culturing information about AGS cell line

For proper handling and management of a cell line, you must know its basic culturing concepts. Particularly, you should learn: What is the AGS cell doubling time? What is the AGS cell media? How do you subculture AGS cells? Which freezing media are used for gastric epithelial AGS cells?

Key Points for Culturing AGS Cells

Doubling Time:

The AGS cell doubling time ranges between 24 to 48 hours.

Adherent or in Suspension:

AGS cells are adherent. They grow into monolayers.

Seeding density:

AGS cells are seeded at a cell density of 1 x 104 cells/cm2. Cells make a confluent monolayer at this density in 3 to 5 days. After removing old media, cells are rinsed with 1 x PBS and incubated with Accutase dissociation solution. Detached cells were resuspended in culture media and centrifuged. The cell pellet was again resuspended, and after AGS cell counting, they are dispensed into the new flask for growth.

Growth Medium:

DMEM media containing 10% FBS, 4 mM L-Glutamine, 4.5 g/L Glucose, 1.5 g/L NaHCO3, and 1.0 mM Sodium pyruvate is used to culture AGS cells. Media should be replaced 2 to 3 times a week.

Growth Conditions: 

AGS cells are kept in a humidified incubator (at 37°C temperature) with a 5% CO2 supply.


Frozen AGS cells are kept in electric freezers at below -150°C temperature or in the vapour phase of liquid nitrogen for a longer time.

Freezing Process and Medium:

CM-1 or CM-ACF medium is used to freeze AGS cells. Cell freezing is carried through a slow freezing process that allows only a 1°C drop in temperature per minute and protects cell viability.

Thawing Process:

Frozen gastric epithelial cells are rapidly agitated in a 37°C water bath for 40 to 60 seconds. Thawed cells are resuspended in fresh culture media and poured into new flasks for growth. After 24-hour incubation, the media is renewed to remove freezing media components. Contrary to this, thawed cells are centrifuged, and freezing media elements are removed. Then harvested cells are again resuspended and dispensed into the flask containing the culture medium.

Biosafety Level:

Biosafety level 2 laboratory settings are essential for AGS cell culturing.


AGS cells at 20x magnification.

3.      AGS cell line: Advantages & Limitations

This article section will enlighten some of the key advantages and limitations associated with AGS cells.


The main advantages of gastric epithelial AGS cells are:

Easy to culture

The AGS gastric carcinoma cell line is easily maintainable in cell culture laboratories. It does not have any complicated and fussy cell culture requirements. Moreover, it exhibits good growth characteristics, making it an ideal choice for studying gastric cancer biology.

Relevance to gastric cancer

AGS cells were derived from human gastric adenocarcinoma, making them widely used to study gastric carcinoma biology and therapeutic interventions.



The limitation associated with the AGS cell line is:

In vitro cell model

AGS cells are cultured in biomedical research laboratories under artificial conditions. Therefore, they might not fully replicate the in vivo gastric cancer microenvironment and other cell and molecular interactions.


4.      Applications of AGS cells

AGS cells are specifically used to study gastric cancer biology. They have many other promising applications in the biomedical field. Some of the interesting research applications of AGS cells are:

  • Gastric cancer study: AGS cells are an excellent research tool to investigate cell and molecular mechanisms underlying gastric cancer growth, metastasis, and invasion. Researchers also employ gastric epithelial AGS cells to study different cellular processes, genetic mutations, and signalling pathways in gastric cancer development. An Oncology Reports (2019) study found that microRNA-183-5p.1 encourages tumour cell proliferation, migration, and invasion by inhibiting the Bcl 2/P53 signalling cascade. Additionally, it also downregulates the TPM1 gene to exert these effects. Thus, both microRNA and TPM1 are suggested as effective molecular targets for developing targeted anti-gastric cancer therapies [2].
  • Drug screening: AGS cells have been commonly used to screen new and effective anti-gastric cancer drugs. Researchers evaluate the cytotoxicity and efficacy of potential drugs using the AGS cell line. Studies have also been conducted on identifying new molecular targets and developing novel targeted therapies to combat gastric carcinomas. Research conducted in 2021 utilized AGS gastric cancer cells and studied the therapeutic effect of the paclitaxel drug. The findings revealed that paclitaxel induces a mitotic catastrophe, an integral mechanism of apoptosis or cell death in AGS cells. In addition, it also promoted autophagy in gastric cancer cells [3].
  • Host-pathogen interactions: The AGS cancer cell line also studies host-pathogen interactions. This helps researchers understand the cellular mechanisms and responses involved in an infection. Such as a study conducted in 2020 observed that small noncoding RNAs present in outer membrane vesicles of Helicobacter pylori decrease interleukin 8 secretion in human AGS cells [4].

5.      Research publications on AGS cell line

This section of the article will cover a few interesting and most cited research publications featuring AGS cells.

Salidroside induces apoptosis and protective autophagy in human gastric cancer AGS cells through the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway

This study in Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy (2020) proposed that salidroside, a natural compound, induces protective autophagy and cell death in gastric epithelial AGS cells via modulation of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR signalling pathway.

Astragalus polysaccharide enhanced antitumor effects of Apatinib in gastric cancer AGS cells by inhibiting AKT signalling pathway

This study was published in Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy (2018). It explored the synergistic anticancer effects of astragalus polysaccharide and the apatinib drug in AGS cells. The study findings revealed that astragalus enhances apatinib antitumor effects via suppressing AKT signalling.

Curcuzedoalide contributes to the cytotoxicity of Curcuma zedoaria rhizomes against human gastric cancer AGS cells through induction of apoptosis

This research in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology (2018) proposed that curcuzedoalide, a natural compound from the Curcuma zedoaria Roscoe plant, contributes to its cytotoxicity potential against AGS cells.

Overexpression of FOXA1 inhibits cell proliferation and EMT of human gastric cancer AGS cells

This publication in Gene (2018) proposed that FOXA1 upregulation suppresses AGS gastric adenocarcinoma cells proliferation and epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) and invasion.

sncRNAs packaged by Helicobacter pylori outer membrane vesicles attenuate IL-8 secretion in human cells

This research article was published in the International Journal of Medical Microbiology in 2020. In this study, AGS cells were employed to study host-pathogen interactions. The findings revealed that Helicobacter pylori contain some noncoding RNA in its outer membrane vesicles that affect IL-8 levels in AGS cells.

6.      Resources for AGS cell line: Protocols, Videos, and More

The following are a few resources featuring AGS cells.

The following link contains the AGS cell culture protocol.

  • AGS cell culture protocol: This website contains useful information about AGS cell media and cell culture protocols. Briefly, it provides a protocol for subculturing gastric epithelial AGS cells and handling proliferating and cryopreserved AGS cultures.
  • Subculturing AGS cells: This site will explain the subculturing procedure for AGS cells in detail.


  1. Phuc, B.H., et al., Comparative genomics of two Vietnamese Helicobacter pylori strains, CHC155 from a non-cardia gastric cancer patient and VN1291 from a duodenal ulcer patient. Scientific Reports, 2023. 13(1): p. 8869.
  2. Lin, J., et al., miRNA1835p. 1 promotes the migration and invasion of gastric cancer AGS cells by targeting TPM1 Corrigendum in/10.3892/or. 2020.7902. Oncology reports, 2019. 42(6): p. 2371-2381.
  3. Khing, T.M., et al., The effect of paclitaxel on apoptosis, autophagy and mitotic catastrophe in AGS cells. Scientific Reports, 2021. 11(1): p. 23490.
  4. Zhang, H., et al., sncRNAs packaged by Helicobacter pylori outer membrane vesicles attenuate IL-8 secretion in human cells. International Journal of Medical Microbiology, 2020. 310(1): p. 151356.