Experimental cell research

Adverse effects of reduced oxygen tension on the proliferative capacity of rat kidney and insulin-secreting cell lines involve DNA damage and stress responses.

PMID 18692496


Standard cell culture conditions do not reflect the physiological environment in terms of oxygen tension (20% vs 3%). The effects of lowering oxygen tension on cell proliferation in culture can be beneficial as well as detrimental depending on the cell line studied, but the molecular mechanism underlying such effects is not fully understood. We observed that the proliferative capacity of the rat cell lines NRK and INS-1 was inhibited when cultured under 3% oxygen as compared to 20% oxygen. Suppression of proliferation in NRK cells was accompanied by induction of DNA double strand breaks whereas in INS-1 cells it was accompanied by up-regulation of p53 and p27. Although Sirt1 was up-regulated in both cell lines by 3% oxygen the effects on antioxidant enzymes (MnSOD, CuZnSOD and catalase) were cell line specific. Marked up-regulation of heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) was detected in both NRK and INS-1 cells when cultured in 3% oxygen. HO-1 expression can be readily induced by exposure to hydrogen peroxide in culture. These results suggest that reduced oxygen tension suppresses the proliferative capacity of these two cell lines through a stress response that is similar to an oxidative stress response but the molecular events that lead to the reduced cell proliferation are cell line specific.