Adrenocortical cell lines

William E. Rainey, Karla Saner, Bernard P. Schimmer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

191 Scopus citations


The human adrenal cortex is a complex endocrine organ that secretes mineralocorticoids, glucocorticoids and adrenal androgens. These steroids arise from morphologically and biochemically distinct zones of the adrenal gland. Studying secretion of these distinct steroid hormones can make use of cells isolated from the adrenal gland but this requires animal sacrifice and the need for continued isolation for long-term studies. In addition primary cultures of adrenal cells have a limited life-span in culture and the cultured cells are often contaminated by the presence of non-steroidogenic cells. For that reason in vitro cell culture models have several benefits for research on adrenocortical function. Herein we discuss the available adrenocortical cell lines and their uses as model systems for adrenal studies. Focus is placed on the human NCI-H295 and mouse Y-1 adrenal cell lines, which have been used extensively as adrenocortical model systems. These cell lines have proven to be of considerable value in studying the molecular and biochemical mechanisms controlling adrenal steroidogenesis. The current review will discuss the attributes and limitations of the currently available adrenocortical cell lines as models for adrenal studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-38
Number of pages16
JournalMolecular and Cellular Endocrinology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Dec 30 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology


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