Previous results with thyroid secretory cells in monolayer culture seem contradictory with respect to phenotypic stability of this cell type. On the one hand, in "minimal" medium the cells lose structural and functional specializations which can be returned only by three-dimensional growth in organ culture upon addition of fibroblasts derived from the thyroid capsule. On the other hand, in "rich" medium used for cloning, cytoarchitecture and function remain unaltered in either mass or clonal cultures. The apparent discrepancy has been resolved by plating cell suspensions in both media and changing to the alternate medium once the cells have become established. It has been shown that a number of characteristics, including hormone levels, are reversed each time such a change in medium is made. These modulations are discussed in terms of the normal variations in structure and function of the gland in vivo.

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