Pflügers Archiv - European Journal of Physiology

, Volume 470, Issue 1, pp 187–198 | Cite as

Chromaffin cells as a model to evaluate mechanisms of cell death and neuroprotective compounds

  • Cristobal de los Rios
  • Maria F. Cano-Abad
  • Mercedes Villarroya
  • Manuela G. LópezEmail author
Invited Review


In this review, we show how chromaffin cells have contributed to evaluate neuroprotective compounds with diverse mechanisms of action. Chromaffin cells are considered paraneurons, as they share many common features with neurons: (i) they synthesize, store, and release neurotransmitters upon stimulation and (ii) they express voltage-dependent calcium, sodium, and potassium channels, in addition to a wide variety of receptors. All these characteristics, together with the fact that primary cultures from bovine adrenal glands or chromaffin cells from the tumor pheochromocytoma cell line PC12 are easy to culture, make them an ideal model to study neurotoxic mechanisms and neuroprotective drugs. In the first part of this review, we will analyze the different cytotoxicity models related to calcium dyshomeostasis and neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. Along the second part of the review, we describe how different classes of drugs have been evaluated in chromaffin cells to determine their neuroprotective profile in different neurodegenerative-related models.


Chromaffin cells PC12 cells Cell death Neuroprotection Calcium 



We acknowledge the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competence ref. SAF2015-63935R to MGL. We thank Instituto de Salud Carlos III (PI16/01041) for funding to CdlR. We also thank the Fundación Teófilo Hernando for its continuous support.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cristobal de los Rios
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Maria F. Cano-Abad
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Mercedes Villarroya
    • 1
  • Manuela G. López
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Instituto Teófilo HernandoUniversidad Autónoma de MadridMadridSpain
  2. 2.Departamento de Farmacología y Terapéutica, Facultad de MedicinaUniversidad Autónoma de MadridMadridSpain
  3. 3.Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria, Hospital Universitario de la PrincesaUniversidad Autónoma de MadridMadridSpain

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