THP-1 cells

The THP-1 cell line, referred to as Tohoku Hospital Pediatrics-1, is a cell culture of human-derived leukemia monocytic cells that have been spontaneously immortalized. It has been utilized in numerous studies investigating various aspects of monocyte/macrophage cells, including their function, signaling pathways, mechanisms, and drug and nutrient transport [1]. In this article, we will introduce you to the basics of the THP-1 cell line. Specifically, we will cover:

  1. General Information and Origin of the THP-1 Cell Line
  2. Information on Culturing THP-1 Cells
  3. Research Applications of the THP-1 Cell Line
  4. Resources for the THP-1 Cell Line: Protocols, Videos, and More

1.      General Information and Origin of the THP-1 Cell Line

If you're starting to work with the THP-1 cell line, you'll want to know its basic information, such as its meaning, origin, size, and more, which we'll cover here.

  1. What is the THP-1 cell line? The THP-1 cell line is a human monocytic leukemia cell line isolated from the peripheral blood of a 1-year-old patient with acute monocytic leukemia (M5 subtype) in 1980.
  2. Morphology THP-1 cells have a round, large, and single-cell morphology.
  3. Cell size The cells are relatively large and have a mean diameter of 21 µm and above.
  4. Genome and ploidy THP-1 is a near-diploid cell line with a diploid (n=46) chromosome number by karyotype analysis.

THP-1 Vs U937

The THP-1 and U937 cell lines are both acute myeloid leukemia (AML) models. The primary difference between the two lies in their origin and maturation. THP-1 cells are obtained from the blood of an AML patient and are at a less mature stage, while U937 cells are at a more advanced stage and have tissue origin [2].

Three Benefits of Using THP-1 Cells

  1. Fast growth rate
  2. Ability to differentiate into dendritic and macrophage-like cells
  3. Homogeneity of cell cultures

3d rendered medically accurate illustration of too many white blood cells due to leukemia

2.      Information on Culturing THP-1 Cells

Knowing the main points about a cell line can make culturing it an easy task. This section provides all the essential information for culturing and maintaining the THP-1 cell line. You'll learn about the doubling time of THP-1 cells, the media used for culturing, whether they're adherent or in suspension, and more.


THP-1 Cell Line

Doubling time

Approximately 35 hours, ranging from 19-50 hours depending on cell culture conditions

Adherent or in suspension

Grow in suspension but can be differentiated into adherent macrophage-like cells

Seeding density

Maintained between 1.0x105 to 1.5x106 viable cells/mL by diluting cells from grown culture to achieve ideal cell density

Growth medium

RPMI 1640 supplemented with 10% FBS, 1 mM sodium pyruvate, and 2.5 mM L-glutamine

Growth conditions (temperature, CO2)

Humidified incubator with 5% CO2 supply at 37°C


Below -150°C to maintain cell viability

Freezing process and medium

CM-1 or CM-ACF media was used for a slow freezing method with a 1°C decrease in temperature

Thawing process

Rapid agitation for 40-60 seconds in a water bath (37°C) containing an antimicrobial agent, then dispensed into flasks with growth media

Biosafety level

Handled and maintained in biosafety level-1 laboratories

THP-1 cells at high and low confluency

3.      Research Applications of the THP-1 Cell Line.

Before working with any cell line, you go through its research application and understand how to utilize these cells in your study. Here we have mentioned a few prominent research applications of the THP-1 cell line.

The THP-1 cell line is widely used in immunology research because it can differentiate into various immune cells. Here are some examples of studies that have utilized THP-1 cells:

  • A 2018 study used THP-1 cells to derive macrophage cells and investigate inflammatory pathways and related mechanisms. The researchers found that a protein called apolipoprotein A-1 binding protein (AIBP) could halt inflammatory pathways by binding to apoA-1 and stabilizing ATP-binding cassette transporter A1 (ABCA1) [3].
  • Another study used THP-1 cells to develop monocyte-like cells and investigate the effects of the neuroprotectant docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) on these cells in the context of Alzheimer's disease. The study explored potential mechanisms underlying the interaction of amyloid beta (Aβ) protein [4].
  • THP-1 cell line-derived macrophages were utilized in another study to investigate the tumor-promoting potential of exosomes secreted by pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) cells [5].

THP-1 cells in research

There is a multitude of studies on THP-1 cells. Here, we have listed a few relevant examples:

4.      Resources for the THP-1 Cell Line: Protocols, Videos, and More.

This section will cover all the available online resources on THP-1 cells. This will significantly help you learn culturing, differentiation, and transfection protocol.

4.1.        Cell culture protocols

These are a few resources explaining culturing and handling protocols for THP-1 cells.

4.2.        Transfection protocols

4.3.        Videos related to THP-1 cells

THP-1 is a widely cultured cell line. Many video resources are available explaining the handling and culturing of this cell line:

We hope this article contains appropriate information about THP-1 cell culturing, differentiation, advantages, and research applications. If you plan to use this in vitro cell model of acute myeloid leukemia in your research, consider ordering from us.


  1. Chanput, W., J.J. Mes, and H.J. Wichers, THP-1 cell line: an in vitro cell model for immune modulation approach. International immunopharmacology, 2014. 23(1): p. 37-45.
  2. Chanput, W., V. Peters, and H. Wichers, THP-1 and U937 Cells. The Impact of Food Bioactives on Health: in vitro and ex vivo models, 2015: p. 147-159.
  3. Zhang, M., et al., Apolipoprotein A-1 binding protein inhibits inflammatory signaling pathways by binding to apolipoprotein A-1 in THP-1 macrophages. Circulation Journal, 2018. 82(5): p. 1396-1404.
  4. Yuan, S., et al., DHA attenuates Aβ-induced necroptosis through the RIPK1/RIPK3 signaling pathway in THP-1 monocytes. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, 2020. 126: p. 110102.
  5. Linton, S.S., et al., Tumor-promoting effects of pancreatic cancer cell exosomes on THP-1-derived macrophages. PLoS One, 2018. 13(11): p. e0206759.