AAT Bioquest

What are the differences and similarities between cell line, cell strain and cell type?

Posted November 6, 2023


Basis of differentiation

Cell line

Cell strain

Cell type


Is a defined population of cells which are derived from a single cell or group of cells

Are derived from a primary culture (through subculturing techniques)

Is a specific type of cell (e.g. neurons, white blood cells)


Can be replicated infinitely under proper conditions 

Have limited replication abilities, and go through senescence  

Cells can replicate depending on the cell type (e.g. stem cells can, red blood cells cannot)


Can go through genetic changes overtime (genetic drift)

Is more genetically stable a cell line, but may have mutations

Is genetically stable since it is a cell type




All somatic cells in the body are diploid, while sex cells are haploid

Serial passaging

Is able to grow through serial passages

Is not able to grow through serial passages

Some primary cells such as fibroblasts are able to grow through serial passaging

Additional resources

Cell Lines

Cell Proliferation Assays

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