African Green Monkey Kidney Cells

African green monkey kidney cells (Vero cells) are lineages of cells used in cell cultures.[1]

The Vero lineage was isolated from kidney epithelial cells extracted from an African green monkey (Chlorocebus sp.; formerly called Cercopithecus aethiops, this group of monkeys has been split into several different species). The lineage was developed on 27 March 1962, by Yasumura and Kawakita at the Chiba University in Chiba, Japan.[2] The original cell line was named “Vero” after an abbreviation of “Verda Reno”, which means “green kidney” in Esperanto, while “vero” itself means “truth” also in Esperanto.[3]

Vero cells are used for many purposes, including:

  • screening for the toxin of Escherichia coli, first named “Vero toxin” after this cell line, and later called “Shiga-like toxin” due to its similarity to Shiga toxin isolated from Shigella dysenteriae.
  • as host cells for growing virus; for example, to measure replication in the presence or absence of a research pharmaceutical, the testing for the presence of rabies virus, or the growth of viral stocks for research purposes.
  • as host cells for eukaryotic parasites, specially of the Trypanosomatids.
  • The Vero cell lineage is continuous and aneuploid. A continuous cell lineage can be replicated through many cycles of division and not become senescent.[4] Aneuploidy is the characteristic of having an abnormal number of chromosomes.

Vero cells are interferon-deficient; unlike normal mammalian cells, they do not secrete interferon alpha nor beta when infected by viruses.[5] However, they still have the Interferon-alpha/beta receptor so they respond normally when interferon from another source is added to the culture.


  1. History and Characterization of the Vero Cell Line — A Report prepared by CDR Rebecca Sheets, Ph.D., USPHS CBER/OVRR/DVRPA/VVB for the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee Meeting to be held on May 12, 2000 OPEN SESSION pdf
  2. Yasumura Y, Kawakita M (1963). “The research for the SV40 by means of tissue culture technique” . Nippon Rinsho 21 (6): 1201–1219.
  3. Shimizu B (1993). Seno K, Koyama H, Kuroki T, ed. Manual of selected cultured cell lines for bioscience and biotechnology (in Japanese). Tokyo: Kyoritsu Shuppan. pp. 299–300. ISBN 4-320-05386-9.
  4. “Main Types of Cell Culture” . Fundamental Techniques in Cell Culture: a Laboratory Handbook. Retrieved 2006-09-28.
  5. Desmyter J, Melnick JL, Rawls WE (October 1968). “Defectiveness of Interferon Production and of Rubella Virus Interference in a Line of African Green Monkey Kidney Cells (Vero)”. J. Virol. 2 (10): 955–61. PMC 375423. PMID 4302013.


The preparation of live, attenuated human influenza virus vaccines and of large quantities of inactivated vaccines after the emergence or reemergence of a pandemic influenza virus will require an alternative host cell system, because embryonated chicken eggs will likely be insufficient and suboptimal. Preliminary studies indicated that an African green monkey kidney cell line (Vero) is a suitable system for the primary isolation and cultivation of influenza A viruses (E. A. Govorkova, N. V. Kaverin, L. V. Gubareva, B. Meignier, and R. G. Webster, J. Infect. Dis. 172:250-253, 1995). We now demonstrate for the first time that Vero cells are suitable for isolation and productive replication of influenza B viruses and determine the biological and genetic properties of both influenza A and B viruses in Vero cells; additionally, we characterize the receptors on Vero cells compared with those on Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells. Sequence analysis indicated that the hemagglutinin of Vero cell-derived influenza B viruses was identical to that of MDCK-grown counterparts but differed from that of egg-grown viruses at amino acid positions 196 to 198. Fluorescence-activated cell sorting analysis showed that although Vero cells possess predominantly alpha2,3 galactose-linked sialic acid, they are fully susceptible to infection with either human influenza A or B viruses. Moreover, all virus-specific polypeptides were synthesized in the same proportions in Vero cells as in MDCK cells. Electron microscopic and immunofluorescence studies confirmed that infected Vero cells undergo the same morphological changes as do other polarized epithelia] cells. Taken together, these results indicate that Vero cell lines could serve as an alternative host system for the cultivation of influenza A and B viruses, providing adequate quantities of either virus to meet the vaccine requirements imposed by an emerging pandemic.