What were the top 100 cell lines of 2022?


Min Read

In this blog:

  • Find out which cell lines have become more popular than HeLa cell lines over the last decade
  • Discover which cell lines are most cited in specific research areas, including cancer research and veterinary science
  • Download data on the top 100 most cited cell lines of 2022

Citation share is a reliable indicator of research trends, enabling us to understand product use from scientists around the world. Today, we are excited to share with you the top 100 most cited cell lines from 2022!

In case you missed it, take a look at our most recent data blog which delved into the top 100 most cited antibodies of 2022.  Over the coming weeks, we will also be sharing ‘top 100’ blogs covering biochemicals, proteins and kits & assays; do keep an eye out on our website or sign up to our newsletter at the bottom of this page. 

What data was used for this analysis?

We’ve worked hard to grow our Cell Lines & Models dataset over the last few years. Currently, we have data on over 350,000 commercially available experimental models, including nearly 200,000 cell lines, with over 300k citations from more than 100 suppliers. Both the coverage and detail in the data is constantly being improved. 

For this analysis, we specifically looked at cell line citations in 2022. Our more granular experimental data on research area classifications was also used to provide some further insight in this blog.

Here’s what we learnt…

Infographic summarising the key takeaways from our top 100 cited cell lines analysis

What were the most popular cell lines in 2022, and how has their citation share changed over time? 

Taking the top spot as the most cited cell line in 2022 was the HEK293T cell line, with a 6.22% share. 

We have observed an interest from researchers in this cell line consistently over the years. Its growing number of citations led to it overtaking the HeLa cell line to claim the top position in 2018, a position it has held since then. 

The popular HeLa cell line is now the 4th most cited cell line in the top 100 dataset. In 2013 this cell line held a leading 4.54% share, demonstrating its influence and widespread usage in research at this time. During the past ten years, its citation share has gradually reduced. HeLa cells were the first immortal human cells grown in culture, and have been subject to much debate over the years given their origin.

HEK293T and related cell lines have seen the opposite trend to HeLa cell lines. In fact, three HEK293T and HEK293 cell lines feature in the top 10 (HEK293T is a derivative of HEK293) and together this family of cell lines make up 11% of the total citations in 2022, showcasing their popularity in research. 

The top 5 most cited cell lines citation share trends over the past ten years

Other cell lines that have also grown their citation share include Vero C1008. This is now the second most cited cell line with a share of 3.36%, up from 0.56% in 2019 – a significant rise. 

A-549 and Vero make up the remainder of the top 5. The citation share of these two well cited products has remained relatively consistent over the years, with a slight uptick in Vero use from 2019.

Delving into research area data

The impact of COVID-19

To explain the trends we found in citation share for certain cell lines in the top 100, we looked into our research area metadata. 

We began by investigating the recent, significant increase in Vero C1008 cell line citations. This cell line, also known as Vero E6 cells, is a Kidney Epithelial cell line from African Green Monkey (Chlorocebus Sabaeus), and is derived from the Vero Cell line which was established in 1962 by Yoshihiro Yasumura at Chiba University. Interestingly, Vero C1008 cells are commonly used to isolate, propagate and study SARS-CoV and related viruses [1]. 

To determine if the increase in this cell line’s use is COVID-19 related, we looked into the data. We found that 29% of the cell line citations in COVID-19 related research papers used Vero E6, and 12% used the original Vero cell line. This shows how their suitability for COVID-19 research could certainly be one driving factor for the uptick in citations we have seen since 2019.

Top cell lines used in COVID-19 research, broken down by citation share

Other research areas and their top cell lines

Given this finding, we then looked further into other research areas and their most cited cell lines. 

When we analysed citations from 2022 by research area, the top cited cell lines changed. For example, the top cited cell line in Cancer Research was MDA-MB-231, whilst in Cardiovascular Biology it was H9c2(2-1). In the top 100 dataset, these cell lines came in at 11th and 41st respectively.

Below we break down this data: 

Table to show individual research areas and the most cited cell line in that research area
Table to show individual research areas and the most cited cell line in that research area

Overall, our analysis has shown how the cell line market continues to grow and fluctuate in response to research demand. We will be interested to see whether the impact of COVID-19 can still be seen in future analysis.

When we looked at the top 100 cited cell line dataset in its entirety, we noticed there was only a 0.64% difference in citation share between the cell line in 100th position and the cell line in 20th. We will be keeping an eye on whether cell lines lower down the list are able to grow their share like HEK293 or Vero cell lines, and if rankings of cell lines of interest shift in next year’s dataset. 

Download the data!

Fill in the short form below to freely download data covering the top 100 cited cell lines of 2022 and their corresponding citation share.

Our full Cell Line data can help to inform strategy or financial decisions, aid in product pipeline development and even support sales and targeted marketing.

We also offer market data for antibodies, biochemicals, proteins and instruments. Do get in touch to chat with the team some more about any of this data!

  • Rhys B and the CiteAb team

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(1)Yasumura Y, Kawakita Y. Studies on SV40 in tissue culture – preliminary step for cancer research in vitro. Nihon Rinsho 21: 1201-1215, 1963.

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