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Immortalized Human Alveolar Epithelial Cells

CI-hAELVi cells are immortalized human alveolar epithelial cells. Alveolar epithelial cells play a crucial role in the respiratory system by lining the alveoli, tiny air sacs within the lungs where gas exchange occurs. CI-hAELVis have been extensively used to model the air-blood-barrier in vitro.

While the cells do show an AT-1 phenotype (expression of Caveolin, no surfactant secretion) in standard culture conditions, they adopt certain AT-2 characteristics in extended ALI culture conditions including secretion of surfactants, formation of microvilli and lamellar structures).

There is a newer and improved alveolar cell line available, CI-huArlo, which is direct derivative of CI-hAELVi.

This CI-hAELVi cell line is the result of a collaboration between HIPS, Saarbrücken (Germany), HZI, Braunschweig (Germany) and us.


  • TEER of >1500 Ω×sqcm in Liquid-Liquid culture
  • TEER of >2000 Ω×sqcm in Air-Liquid-Interface culture
  • Tight junctions (ZO1 and Occludin)
  • Susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection

CI-huArlo or CI-hAELVi?

We offer two alveolar cell lines CI-hAELVi and CI-huArlo, which are closely related. See the FAQ for more information.

Buying and Ordering the Cells

For non-profit organizations, cells are available for perpetual academic research under the Limited Research Use License. To request a quote, please email us at or use the contact form provided below.

For-profit entities can purchase cells for commercial use starting with an Evaluation Agreement for preliminary testing. This is followed by custom, non-exclusive licensing agreements tailored to your needs. For further details, reach out to us at or via the contact form below.

Supplied as

Each license includes 1 vial of >0.5Mio viable cells. Additional or replacement vials can be purchased for a fee of 450€.

Catalog Number
Features and Applications
  • Air-Blood-Barrier model
  • Air-Liquid-Interface culture
  • Barrier formation
Price Non-Profit (Academic Research)
Price For-Profit (Commercial Research)
Evaluation: 3500€ (3 Months) / 5000€ (6 Months)
Product Sheet
Limited Research Use License

Product Details

CI-hAELVi at low and high confluency, cultured in huAEC Medium (Cat.-No. INS-ME-1013) as a 2D monolayer on huAEC Coating Solution (Cat.-No. INS-SU-1018).

Coming Soon!

Stay tuned for comprehensive details on our cell line characteristics and corresponding protocols, which will be available here shortly.

We recommend the following reagents for the cell culture of this cell line:

Growth Medium: huAEC Medium (INS-ME-1013)

Coating: huAEC Coating Solution (INS-SU-1018)

Freezing Medium: Freezing Medium A (INS-SU-1004)

Please note that while you may be able to adapt the cells to different cell culture reagents, we can only guarantee optimal performance using the recommended reagents.

  • Product Sheet including all relevant protocols and instructions (PDF)
  • Material Safety Data Sheet (PDF)
  • Request CoA (Email)

Coming Soon!

Stay tuned for comprehensive protocols for this cell line, from routine cell cultures to assay manuals.

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Medium kit for culture of immortalized alveolar cells.

  • Alveolar cell culture
  • Medium kit
  • 500ml
More details
and prices ->

Coating Solution for culture of immortalized alveolar cells.

  • Alveolar cell culture
  • Coating solution
  • 50 or 100ml
More details
and prices ->

Medium kit for cryopreservation of immortalized cells.

  • Cryopreservation Medium
  • Ready-to-use
  • 30ml
More details
and prices ->

Immortalized human alveolar epithelial cells, an improved version of the CI-hAELVi cells derived by single-cell printing.

  • Air-Blood-Barrier model
  • Air-Liquid-Interface culture
  • Barrier formation
More details
and prices ->

Product FAQ

CI-huArlo is a direct derivative of CI-hAELVi, created through single cell printing technology. Both cell lines exhibit similar characteristics, offering an excellent alveolar in vitro model. For a detailed comparison of both cell lines refer to the following research paper: Carius, et al.  Adv Sci vol. 10,8 (2023).

CI-huArlo shows an enhanced alveolar phenotype compared to CI-hAELVi, mainly:

  • improved barrier formation (TEER) in Liquid-Liquid Interface (LLI) and Air-Liquid Interface (ALI)
  • better polarized monolayer in ALI culture
  • gene expression profiles similar to primary cells

You can refer to Carius, et al.  Adv Sci vol. 10,8 (2023) for a detailed comparison.

However, we have also found the CI-huArlo cells to require a bit more „finesse“ when culturing them, compared to CI-hAELVi. This makes CI-huArlo particularly suitable for studies requiring the best alveolar in vitro model. However, due to the extensive use and publication history of CI-hAELVi, it remains the recommended choice for researchers wanting to reproduce or build upon existing research findings.

The choice between CI-huArlo and CI-hAELVi depends on your research objectives and the specific requirements of your study.

CI-huArlo is ideal for cutting-edge research requiring an improved alveolar model, while CI-hAELVi is better suited for projects intending to build upon a wealth of previously published data.

Should you require further advice in selecting the most appropriate cell line for your needs, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our team is happy to assist you in making the best choice for your research.

Yes, CI-hAELVi cells can be cultured in Air-Liquid Interface (ALI) conditions. Please follow the instructions provided in the Product Sheet. We also provide a specialized Medium FasTEER Medium specifically optimized for robust barrier formation in ALI and Liquid-Liquid Interface (LLI) culture.

Initially, CI-hAELVis were identified as alveolar type-I cells, based on their isolation protocol, caveolin expression, and lack of key type-II markers. However, recent studies indicate that under long-term Air-Liquid Interface (ALI) culture conditions, they might exhibit type-II characteristics, including lamellar body formation and surfactant protein secretion.

While our alveolar cells typically exhibit a type-I phenotype in standard cultures, they appear to maintain a degree of plasticity, potentially shifting towards a more type-II phenotype under ALI conditions. Whether this is general differentiation in ALI conditions or true plasticity of the cell line, remains to be fully understood.

For the best performance of this cell line, we advise using our Medium and Coating Solutions specified in the product sheet. These have been specially optimized for these cells. While it may be possible to adapt the cells to a different medium, we cannot assure their optimal performance outside our recommended Medium and Coating Solution. To validate any new culturing conditions, we suggest conducting comparative tests with our recommended protocols to confirm the cells‘ expected behavior.

All our cell lines were immortalized using our custom library of immortalization genes. This library contains a combination of specifically selected immortalization genese encoded in lentiviruses. For a detailed description of our immortalization technology refer to Lipps et al. Nat comm vol. 9,1 994. 2018.

Firstly, it is worth mentioning that passage number is not always a reliable indicator of cell ageing due to its dependence on variables like seeding densities and split ratios. However, they can provide useful guidance in routine cell culture.

Our cell lines are truly immortalized, allowing for indefinite culturing. Nonetheless, we advise caution beyond passage 50. While more stable than typical cancer cell lines, our cells can still undergo changes with prolonged culture. We recommend periodically assessing cell performance after passage 50.

Typically, our immortalized cells are provided at passages 5 to 15. To avoid running out of material, we suggest banking cells immediately after initial expansion. This strategy ensures you always have sufficient cells for your research.

Should there be any concerns about depleting your cell stock, you have the option to order a new vial of cells as a replacement for a handling fee.

This cell line is BSL 1 according to German legislation. However, persons working with such cell lines and their employers are required to familiarize themselves with the national regulations and safety precautions, as they may differ. Our provided biosafety classification does not provide any exemption from this responsibility. 

Yes, you can use our immortalized cell lines for commercial purposes with the appropriate license. We provide an initial evaluation phase for our cell lines at a flat fee of €3,500 for a 3-month license, or €5,000 for a 6-month license. During this period, use of the cells is limited to internal research, development, and validation.

For commercial use beyond the evaluation phase, we offer various licensing options, such as:

  • Internal research and development
  • CRO license (providing research services to third parties)
  • Assay license


Please contact us to find the licensing option that best fits your needs.

Our immortalized cell lines are fully characterized and can be expanded indefinitely, making them a one-time purchase for perpetual use. This differs from primary cells, which are consumables you would need to repurchase. The licensing model not only respects the perpetual use value but also allows us to adjust fees based on your specific use case. Consider two scenarios: Customer A wants the cells for a single assay at one site for a limited time, while Customer B plans to use them globally across multiple sites for drug discovery and additionally transfer them to a CRO. Charging both customers the same one-time fee would not account for the vastly different use cases. That’s why our license fees are tailored to fit your unique needs.

Literature and Reference

Kuehn, Anna, et al. ‘Human Alveolar Epithelial Cells Expressing Tight Junctions to Model the Air-Blood Barrier’. ALTEX, vol. 33, no. 3, Mar. 2016, pp. 251–260, https://doi.org10.14573/altex.1511131.

Kletting, Stephanie, et al. ‘Co-Culture of Human Alveolar Epithelial (hAELVi) and Macrophage (THP-1) Cell Lines’. ALTEX, vol. 35, no. 2, Nov. 2017, pp. 211–222, https://doi.org10.14573/altex.1607191.

Ho, Duy-Khiet, et al. ‘Polysaccharide Submicrocarrier for Improved Pulmonary Delivery of Poorly Soluble Anti-Infective Ciprofloxacin: Preparation, Characterization, and Influence of Size on Cellular Uptake’. Molecular Pharmaceutics, vol. 15, no. 3, Feb. 2018, pp. 1081–1096, https://doi.org10.1021/acs.molpharmaceut.7b00967.

Blondonnet, Raïko, et al. ‘In Vitro Method to Control Concentrations of Halogenated Gases in Cultured Alveolar Epithelial Cells’. Journal of Visualized Experiments : JoVE, no. 140, Oct. 2018, https://doi.org10.3791/58554.

Heck, Astrid Johanna, et al. ‘Supramolecular Toxin Complexes for Targeted Pharmacological Modulation of Polymorphonuclear Leukocyte Functions’. Advanced Healthcare Materials, vol. 8, no. 17, July 2019, p. e1900665, https://doi.org10.1002/adhm.201900665.

Artzy-Schnirman, Arbel, et al. ‘Capturing the Onset of Bacterial Pulmonary Infection in Acini-On-Chips’. Advanced Biosystems, vol. 3, no. 9, July 2019, p. e1900026, https://doi.org10.1002/adbi.201900026.

Thanki, Kaushik, et al. ‘Mechanistic Profiling of the Release Kinetics of siRNA from Lipidoid-Polymer Hybrid Nanoparticles in Vitro and in Vivo after Pulmonary Administration’. Journal of Controlled Release : Official Journal of the Controlled Release Society, vol. 310, Aug. 2019, pp. 82–93, https://doi.org10.1016/j.jconrel.2019.08.004.

Leibrock, Lars, et al. ‘Nanoparticle Induced Barrier Function Assessment at Liquid-Liquid and Air-Liquid Interface in Novel Human Lung Epithelia Cell Lines’. Toxicology Research, vol. 8, no. 6, Nov. 2019, pp. 1016–1027, https://doi.org10.1039/c9tx00179d.

Joelsson, Jon P., et al. ‘Azithromycin Has Lung Barrier Protective Effects in a Cell Model Mimicking Ventilator-Induced Lung Injury’. ALTEX, vol. 37, no. 4, May 2020, pp. 545–560, https://doi.org10.14573/altex.2001271.

Mills-Goodlet, Robert, et al. „Biological effects of allergen–nanoparticle conjugates: uptake and immune effects determined on hAELVi cells under submerged vs. air–liquid interface conditions.“ Environmental Science: Nano 7.7 (2020): 2073-2086.

Diem, Kathrin, et al. ‘Mechanical Stretch Activates Piezo1 in Caveolae of Alveolar Type I Cells to Trigger ATP Release and Paracrine Stimulation of Surfactant Secretion from Alveolar Type II Cells’. FASEB Journal : Official Publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, vol. 34, no. 9, Aug. 2020, pp. 12785–12804, https://doi.org10.1096/fj.202000613RRR.

Metz, Julia Katharina, et al. ‘Modulating the Barrier Function of Human Alveolar Epithelial (hAELVi) Cell Monolayers as a Model of Inflammation’. Alternatives to Laboratory Animals : ATLA, vol. 48, no. 5–6, Jan. 2021, pp. 252–267, https://doi.org10.1177/0261192920983015.

Brandt, Raphael, et al. ‘Metabolic Glycoengineering Enables the Ultrastructural Visualization of Sialic Acids in the Glycocalyx of the Alveolar Epithelial Cell Line hAELVi’. Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology, vol. 8, Jan. 2021, p. 614357, https://doi.org10.3389/fbioe.2020.614357.

Chakraborty, Shinjini, et al. ‘Role of the C5a-C5a Receptor Axis in the Inflammatory Responses of the Lungs after Experimental Polytrauma and Hemorrhagic Shock’. Scientific Reports, vol. 11, no. 1, Jan. 2021, p. 2158, https://doi.org10.1038/s41598-020-79607-1.

Chang, Shu-Han, et al. ‘Transwell Insert-Embedded Microfluidic Devices for Time-Lapse Monitoring of Alveolar Epithelium Barrier Function under Various Stimulations’. Micromachines, vol. 12, no. 4, Apr. 2021, https://doi.org10.3390/mi12040406.

Brookes, Oliver, et al. ‘Co-Culture of Type I and Type II Pneumocytes as a Model of Alveolar Epithelium’. PloS One, vol. 16, no. 9, Sept. 2021, p. e0248798, https://doi.org10.1371/journal.pone.0248798.

Barilli, Amelia, et al. ‘Immune-Mediated Inflammatory Responses of Alveolar Epithelial Cells: Implications for COVID-19 Lung Pathology’. Biomedicines, vol. 10, no. 3, Mar. 2022, https://doi.org10.3390/biomedicines10030618.

Nof, Eliram, et al. ‘Human Multi-Compartment Airways-on-Chip Platform for Emulating Respiratory Airborne Transmission: From Nose to Pulmonary Acini’. Frontiers in Physiology, vol. 13, Mar. 2022, p. 853317, https://doi.org10.3389/fphys.2022.853317.

Weiss, Agnes-Valencia, et al. ‘Gelatin Nanoparticles with Tunable Mechanical Properties: Effect of Crosslinking Time and Loading’. Beilstein Journal of Nanotechnology, vol. 13, Aug. 2022, pp. 778–787, https://doi.org10.3762/bjnano.13.68.

Visigalli, Rossana, et al. ‘Expression and Function of ABC Transporters in Human Alveolar Epithelial Cells’. Biomolecules, vol. 12, no. 9, Sept. 2022, https://doi.org10.3390/biom12091260.

Mache, Christin, et al. ‘SARS-CoV-2 Omicron Variant Is Attenuated for Replication in a Polarized Human Lung Epithelial Cell Model’. Communications Biology, vol. 5, no. 1, Oct. 2022, p. 1138, https://doi.org10.1038/s42003-022-04068-3.

Carius, Patrick, et al. ‘A Monoclonal Human Alveolar Epithelial Cell Line (“Arlo”) with Pronounced Barrier Function for Studying Drug Permeability and Viral Infections’. Advanced Science (Weinheim, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany), vol. 10, no. 8, Feb. 2023, p. e2207301, https://doi.org10.1002/advs.202207301.

Berggren-Nylund, Rebecca, et al. ‘Effects of Hypoxia on Bronchial and Alveolar Epithelial Cells Linked to Pathogenesis in Chronic Lung Disorders’. Frontiers in Physiology, vol. 14, Mar. 2023, p. 1094245, https://doi.org10.3389/fphys.2023.1094245.

Wu, Cheng-Yu, et al. ‘CEACAM6 as a Novel Therapeutic Target to Boost HO-1-Mediated Antioxidant Defense in COPD’. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, vol. 207, no. 12, June 2023, pp. 1576–1590, https://doi.org10.1164/rccm.202208-1603OC.

We love to hear about your research! Please let us know if you have published using our cells.