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J Immunol Methods. 2009 May 31;344(2):109-15. doi: 10.1016/j.jim.2009.03.014. Epub 2009 Apr 5.

Efficient non-viral transfection of THP-1 cells.

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Leibniz Institute of Arteriosclerosis Research, Domagkstrasse 3, 48149 M√ľnster, Germany.


Macrophages are an important part of the cellular immune system and play a key role during immune responses. Thus, macrophages are interesting targets in basic and clinical research. Primary monocytes or monocyte-derived macrophages do not proliferate on a suitable scale so that their use for functional studies in vitro is limited. Immortal proliferating cell lines, such as the human THP-1 monocytic leukemia cell line, are therefore often used instead of primary cells. Transfection is a useful tool to study the function of gene products, but transfection of THP-1 monocytes and pre-differentiated THP-1 macrophages with subsequent differentiation into mature THP-1 macrophages using phorbol esters is usually accompanied by a progressive loss of cell viability. In this study, we describe a simple and rapid approach for efficient transfection of THP-1 monocytes and pre-differentiated THP-1 macrophages using a modified Nucleofection-based approach. The protocol maintains cell viability and functionality, thus allowing efficient transfection of THP-1 cells combined with subsequent differentiation of transfected THP-1 cells into mature macrophages.

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