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In cell culture biology, confluence is the term commonly used as an estimate of the number of adherent cells in a culture dish or a flask, referring to the proportion of the surface which is covered by cells. For example, 50 percent confluence means roughly half of the surface is covered and there is still room for cells to grow. 100 percent confluence means the surface is completely covered by the cells, and no more room is left for the cells to grow as a monolayer.
Many cell lines exhibit differences in growth rate or gene expression depending on the degree of confluence. Cells are typically passaged before becoming fully confluent in order to maintain their proliferative phenotype. Some cell types are not limited by contact inhibition, such as immortalized cells, may continue to divide and form layers on top of the parent cells. To achieve optimal and consistent results, experiments are usually performed using cells at a particular confluence, depending on the cell type.