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KG-1 Cell Line

KG-1 cells constitute a human-derived leukaemia cell line that is widely used in biomedical research. They offer diverse applications in immunology, cancer, and toxicology research. Researchers employ these cells to study disease mechanisms and test potential therapies. This article will provide comprehensive information about the KG-1 cell line that may assist you in your work. Notably, it will discuss:

  1. General characteristics and origin of KG-1 cell line
  2. Culturing information about KG-1 cell line
  3. KG-1 cell line: Advantages & Limitations
  4. Applications of KG-1 cells in research
  5. Publications on KG-1 cells
  6. Resources for KG-1 cell line: Protocols, Videos, and More

1. General characteristics and origin of KG-1 cell line

A cell line's origin and general characteristics help a researcher decide its use in their work. You may investigate this information before starting to work on it. This article section is all about KG-1 macrophages' origin and characteristics. Here, you will learn: What are KG-1 cells? What is the KG-1a cell line? What is the origin of the KG-1 cell line? What is KG-1 morphology?

  • KG-1 is a lymphoblast-like cell line derived from the bone marrow aspirate of a Caucasian male (59 years old) with acute myelogenous leukaemia. It was established by Koeffler and Golde in 1978. These cells are mainly at the promyelocyte or myeloblast maturation stage [1].
  • KG-1 cells possess a lymphoblast-like morphology.
  • KG-1 cell line karyotype exhibits a pseudodiploid modal number of chromosomes.

KG-1 and KG-1a

KG-1a is a subline of parental KG-1 cells. It was developed after 35 passages of the KG1 cell line. It is less differentiated compared to the KG-1 cell line. Moreover, this subline is cytochemically, morphologically, and functionally less mature compared to the parent cell line (KG-1).

Real-time analysis of red blood cells in human blood under the microscope in biological laboratory research.

2. Culturing information about KG-1 cell line

This section of the article will cover all the imperative information about KG-1 cell culturing that may ease your work. Here you will learn: What is the doubling time of the KG 1 cell line? What are the culture conditions of KG-1 macrophages? How do you culture KG-1 cells?

Key Points for Culturing KG-1 Cells

Doubling Time:

The KG-1 doubling time is approximately 45 hours. However, it may vary depending on the culturing conditions.

Adherent or in Suspension:

The KG-1 cells grow in suspension.

Cell density:

The optimal cell density for the KG1 cell line is from 1 to 3 x 105 cells/ml. To subculture, the cell suspension is transferred into a sterile tube and centrifuged. The harvested cells are then added with fresh media and carefully resuspended. Afterwards, cells are dispensed into new flasks and cultured at an optimal cell density. The cells can be Split when they reach a maximum cell density of 1 - 2 x 106 cells/ml.

Growth Medium:

IMDM (Iscove's Modified Dulbecco's Medium) containing 10% FBS, 4.5 g/L Glucose, 4 mM L-Glutamine, 1.0 mM Sodium pyruvate, and 3.0 g/L NaHCO3 is used to culture KG-1 cells. Media should be replaced after three days.

Growth Conditions:

The KG1 AML cell line is cultured in a humidified incubator at 37°C temperature and with a 5% CO2 supply.


Frozen cells are kept in the vapour phase of liquid nitrogen or at below -150 °C temperature in an electric ultra-low temperature freezer to protect the viability of cells.

Freezing Process and Medium:

CM-1 or CM-ACF is suitable for KG-1 cells freezing. Cells are frozen using a slow freezing process to protect cells from any shock. This method allows a gradual 1 °C drop in temperature per minute.

Thawing Process:

Cells are thawed in a pre-warmed water bath at 37 °C until a small ice clump is left. Thawed cells are added with the fresh medium and centrifuged to remove freezing media components. The cell pellet is carefully resuspended and poured into new flasks containing growth media.

Biosafety Level:

The Biosafety level 1 laboratory is essential for maintaining KG-1 cell cultures.


KG-1 cells showing the formation of small cell clusters in suspension culture at 20x and 10x magnification.

3. KG-1 cell line: Advantages & Limitations

Like other cell lines, the KG-1 myeloid leukaemia cell line is also associated with many advantages and limitations. In this section, we will learn about some notable ones that may be crucial in deciding its use in your research.


The main advantages of KG-1 cells are:

  • Ease of Culturing

    KG-1 cells are readily cultured in research laboratories, boasting uncomplicated cell culture requirements. Their easy maintenance and growth conditions provide accessibility to a broad spectrum of researchers with basic cell culture facilities.

  • Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) Model

    Derived from a male patient with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), the KG-1 AML cell line serves as a valuable tool for investigating the biology of AML and conducting research on potential therapeutics, offering insights into this disease's underlying mechanisms and treatment strategies.


The limitations associated with the KG1 cell line are:

  • In Vitro Model

    KG-1 cells are valuable in vitro model for AML research; however, it's important to note that they may not fully replicate the complexity of the disease in vivo, serving as a simplified cell model that might not encompass all aspects of AML biology.


4. Applications of KG-1 cells in research

KG-1 offers several promising applications in biomedical research. Some of the important research used of the KG1 macrophages include:

  • Cancer research: KG-1 cells were derived from an acute myeloid leukemia patient and thus are considered a valuable research tool for investigating AML biology. Researchers employ these cells to study the cellular and molecular mechanisms driving AML development, growth, and drug resistance. This also involves identifying and discovering novel biomarkers, genetic mutations, and signalling pathways associated with AML. Such as, a study conducted in 2019 investigated that long non-coding RNA linc00239 facilitates doxorubicin resistance and malignant behaviour in acute myeloid leukaemia cells, KG-1. Further study revealed that the lncRNA activates PI3K/Akt/mTOR signalling to exert these effects in AML cells [2].
  • Toxicology: The KG1 cell line is widely used in toxicology research. Researchers test potential therapeutic agents' toxicity and efficacy, including chemotherapeutic drugs and targeted therapies on KG1 myeloid leukemia cells, to identify promising drug candidates for future preclinical and clinical assessments. Research conducted in 2018 analyzed the toxicity of doxorubicin-containing nano-niosomes on the KG1 AML cell line. The study proposed that nano-niosome is a suitable carrier for drug delivery as it enhances the effectiveness of the treatment [3]. In another investigation, researchers explored the therapeutic effects of nettle tea prepared from Urtica dioica plant leaves. The study revealed that this aqueous leaf extract of plant exerts anti-tumor effects in acute myeloid leukaemia cells, KG-1 and U937 [4].

5. Publications on KG-1 cells

This section of the article enlists a few interesting research publications on KG-1 cells.

Quercetin sensitizes human myeloid leukemia KG‐1 cells against TRAIL‐induced apoptosis

This paper was published in the Journal of Cellular Physiology (2019). The study proposed that the quercetin compound sensitizes the KG1 AML cell line against TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) and may upsurge the effect of TRAIL-induced cytotoxicity in cells.

KLF8 enhances acute myeloid leukemia cell growth and glycolysis via AKT/mTOR pathway

This article in the Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research (2022) proposed that krüppel-like transcription factor 8 downregulation suppresses AML cell proliferation and glycolysis, encouraging apoptosis via regulating the AKT/mTOR signalling pathway.

Effects of Sorafenib and Arsenic Trioxide on U937 and KG-1 Cell Lines: Apoptosis or Autophagy?

This study in Cell Journal (Yakhteh) (2020) explored the potential effects of arsenic Trioxide and sorafenib on U937 and KG-1 cells.

Acute myeloid leukemia sensitivity to metabolic inhibitors: glycolysis showed to be a better therapeutic target

This study published in Medical Oncology (2020) evaluated the  OXPHOS and glycolysis as therapeutic targets in the AML cell line, KG-1.

Curcumin Combined with Thalidomide Reduces Expression of STAT3 and Bcl-xL, Leading to Apoptosis in Acute Myeloid Leukemia Cell Lines

This Drug Design, Development, and Therapy publication, 2020 proposed that curcumin and thalidomide compounds synergistically exert apoptotic effects in KG-1 cells via decreasing STAT3 and Bcl-xL expression.

6. Resources for KG-1 cell line: Protocols, Videos, and More

The following are a few online resources available on KG-1 cells.

The following link contains the KG-1 cell culture protocol:

  • KG-1 cell line: This website is loaded with basic cell culture information about the KG-1 cell line. It includes information about cell line media and protocols for subculturing and handling cryopreserved and proliferative cultures.


  1. Pelliccia, F., V. Ubertini, and N. Bosco, The importance of molecular cytogenetic analysis prior to using cell lines in research: The case of the KG-1a leukemia cell line. Oncol Lett, 2012. 4(2): p. 237-240.
  2. Yang, Y., et al., Long noncoding RNA linc00239 promotes malignant behaviors and chemoresistance against doxorubicin partially via activation of the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway in acute myeloid leukaemia cells. Oncology Reports, 2019. 41(4): p. 2311-2320.
  3. Bahrami-Banan, F., et al., Preparation and study of nano-niosomes containing doxorubicin and evaluation of its toxicity on acute myeloblastic leukemia cell line KG-1. Payavard Salamat, 2018. 12(4): p. 309-323.
  4. Hodroj, M.H., et al., Nettle tea inhibits growth of acute myeloid leukemia cells in vitro by promoting apoptosis. Nutrients, 2020. 12(9): p. 2629.


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