Cardiac physiology at the cellular level: use of cultured HL-1 cardiomyocytes for studies of cardiac muscle cell structure and function

Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2004 Mar;286(3):H823-9. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00986.2003.


HL-1 cells are currently the only cardiomyocyte cell line available that continuously divides and spontaneously contracts while maintaining a differentiated cardiac phenotype. Extensive characterization using microscopic, genetic, immunohistochemical, electrophysiological, and pharmacological techniques has demonstrated how similar HL-1 cells are to primary cardiomyocytes. In the few years that HL-1 cells have been available, they have been used in a variety of model systems designed to answer important questions regarding cardiac biology at the cellular and molecular levels. Whereas HL-1 cells have been used to study normal cardiomyocyte function with regard to signaling, electrical, metabolic, and transcriptional regulation, they have also been used to address pathological conditions such as hypoxia, hyperglycemia-hyperinsulinemia, apoptosis, and ischemia-reperfusion. The availability of an immortalized, contractile cardiac cell line has provided investigators with a tool for probing the intricacies of cardiomyocyte function. In this review, we describe the culture and characterization of HL-1 cardiomyocytes as well as various model systems that have been developed using these cells to gain a better understanding of cardiac biology at the cellular and molecular levels.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • Cell Line
  • Humans
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / cytology*
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology