Send to

Choose Destination
PLoS One. 2012;7(8):e43853. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0043853. Epub 2012 Aug 24.

Atmospheric oxygen tension slows myoblast proliferation via mitochondrial activation.

Author information

Research Center for Genetic Medicine, Children's National Medical Center, Washington, District of Columbia, United States of America.



Mitochondrial activity inhibits proliferation and is required for differentiation of myoblasts. Myoblast proliferation is also inhibited by the ~20% oxygen level used in standard tissue culture. We hypothesize that mitochondrial activity would be greater at hyperoxia (20% O(2)) relative to more physiological oxygen (5% O(2)).


Murine primary myoblasts from isolated myofibres and conditionally immortalized H-2K myoblasts were cultured at 5% and 20% oxygen. Proliferation, assayed by cell counts, EdU labeling, and CFSE dilution, was slower at 20% oxygen. Expression of MyoD in primary myoblasts was delayed at 20% oxygen, but myogenicity, as measured by fusion index, was slightly higher. FACS-based measurement of mitochondrial activity indicators and luminometric measurement of ATP levels revealed that mitochondria exhibited greater membrane potential and higher levels of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) at 20% oxygen with concomitant elevation of intracellular ATP. Mitochondrial mass was unaffected. Low concentrations of CCCP, a respiratory chain uncoupler, and Oligomycin A, an ATP synthase inhibitor, each increased the rate of myoblast proliferation. ROS were investigated as a potential mechanism of mitochondrial retrograde signaling, but scavenging of ROS levels by N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) or α-Phenyl-N-tert-butylnitrone (PBN) did not rescue the suppressed rate of cell division in hyperoxic conditions, suggesting other pathways. Primary myoblasts from older mice showed a slower proliferation than those from younger adult mice at 20% oxygen but no difference at 5% oxygen.


These results implicate mitochondrial regulation as a mechanistic explanation for myoblast response to oxygen tension. The rescue of proliferation rate in myoblasts of aged mice by 5% oxygen suggests a major artefactual component to age-related decline of satellite cell proliferation in standard tissue culture at 20% oxygen. It lends weight to the idea that these age-related changes result at least in part from environmental factors rather than characteristics intrinsic to the satellite cell.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center