Interest in hypoxia has ballooned in the past decade due to its importance to the understanding of angiogenesis, tumorigenesis, stem cells, diabetes and the role of metabolism in both obesity and aging. What are the effects of using a hypoxia chamber on the results of cell culture investigations?
Cells act more naturally in an environment that’s as close to natural as possible. Most cells exist in environments consisting of 2% to 8% dissolved oxygen – significantly lower than the concentration found in our atmosphere (about 21%). Current cell culture methods require isolating cells from an in-vivo source and then analyzing them in ambient atmospheric conditions. That’s quite a shock, like a fish yanked out of water. Maintaining in-vivo-like conditions using a hypoxia chamber reduces this shock, making the results of research more life-like.
When a fish is reeled into a boat, the fish lets us know it’s stressed out by flailing its body wildly. Cells don’t do that, of course – instead, we infer that cells are stressed when they fail to interact the way we expect, or fail to interact at all. It’s unreasonable to expect cells to act normally when nothing about their surroundings is normal. More natural cell interactions occur within more natural environments.
For example, the expression of mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) marker CD44 is improved more than five-fold in a hypoxia chamber set to 2% oxygen vs. ambient conditions.* The best hypoxia chambers allow access (even microscopic analysis) without disturbing the conditions necessary for optimal growth.
The effects of oxidative stress can be so taxing on cells that fewer cells live long enough to reproduce. Cells that are carefully maintained in in-vivo-like conditions from harvesting through analysis and incubation actually have lower mortality rates during manipulations or through experimentation than cells that are not maintained in such precise conditions. MSCs, for example, form 50% more colony forming units in a low-oxygen environment than at ambient oxygen levels, resulting in a 15% increase in cell numbers.* Using hypoxia chambers can increase your cell yield by keeping cells strong and healthy enough to thrive.
Additionally, the precise oxygen-level control offered by hypoxia chambers can help cells interact more consistently, reducing variability in cell conditioning.
Ruskinn (a division of The Baker Company) offers hypoxia workstations that provide accurate oxygen, carbon dioxide, temperature and humidity control, providing the optimal environment for cell culture research. Our Product Chooser tool can help you find the right one for your application.