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Chin Med J (Engl). 2010 Apr 20;123(8):1086-92.

SH-SY5Y human neuroblastoma cell line: in vitro cell model of dopaminergic neurons in Parkinson's disease.

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Department of Neurology, the First Hospital, Jilin University, Changchun, China.



To evaluate the human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cell line as an in vitro model of dopaminergic (DAergic) neurons for Parkinson's disease (PD) research and to determine the effect of differentiation on this cell model.


The data of this review were selected from the original reports and reviews related to SH-SY5Y cells published in Chinese and foreign journals (Pubmed 1973 to 2009).


After searching the literature, 60 articles were selected to address this review.


The SH-SY5Y cell line has become a popular cell model for PD research because this cell line posses many characteristics of DAergic neurons. For example, these cells express tyrosine hydroxylase and dopamine-beta-hydroxylase, as well as the dopamine transporter. Moreover, this cell line can be differentiated into a functionally mature neuronal phenotype in the presence of various agents. Upon differentiation, SH-SY5Y cells stop proliferating and a constant cell number is subsequently maintained. However, different differentiating agents induce different neuronal phenotypes and biochemical changes. For example, retinoic acid induces differentiation toward a cholinergic neuronal phenotype and increases the susceptibility of SH-SY5Y cells to neurotoxins and neuroprotective agents, whereas treatment with retinoic acid followed by phorbol ester 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate results in a DAergic neuronal phenotype and decreases the susceptibility of cells to neurotoxins and neuroprotective agents. Some differentiating agents also alter kinetics of 1-methyl-4-phenyl-pyridinium (MPP(+)) uptake, making SH-SY5Y cells more similar to primary mesencephalic neurons.


Differentiated and undifferentiated SH-SY5Y cells have been widely used as a cell model of DAergic neurons for PD research. Some differentiating agents afford SH-SY5Y cells with more potential for studying neurotoxicity and neuroprotection and are thus more relevant to experimental PD research.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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