I'm a physicist asking questions on an aspect of cellular metabolism, so excuse my biological ignorance! Hypoxia is a frequent complication of certain tumour types, and has quite an implication for treatment prognosis - at certain low oxygen levels, metabolic functions become massively reduced or even halted and eventually necrosis sets in.

My question is what kind of partial pressures will cell division typically be halted at? From this review paper, it indicates that below 8-10 mmHg, adequate metabolistic functions cannot be maintained. In this case, the critical parameter being measured is ATP production. However, I've seen quotes for Chinese Hamster Ovary cells of 0.5-1mmHg. In radiotherapy, "hypoxia" as a condition is defined as < 2.5 mmHg but this doesn't tell me much w.r.t cell division or lack thereof.

Does anyone know a ball park figure for the cessation of cell division, in a typical cell line, and where I might find information on this? Thanks!

  • $\begingroup$ Part of your problem is that while cell lines are often cultured in "normoxic" conditions, with atmospheric levels of oxygen (~21%), no tissue in the body (except maybe the lungs) actually experiences that; it varies, but most tissues in the body see something closer to 5%, with 1% being "hypoxic." I don't think I could grow my cell lines in 5% oxygen. $\endgroup$ – Amory Sep 22 '13 at 16:15

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