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Tissue Eng Part A. 2014 Aug;20(15-16):2265-72. doi: 10.1089/ten.TEA.2013.0637. Epub 2014 Jul 2.

Downregulation of metabolic activity increases cell survival under hypoxic conditions: potential applications for tissue engineering.

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Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine , Winston-Salem, North Carolina.


A major challenge to the success of cell-based implants for tissue regeneration is an insufficient supply of oxygen before host vasculature is integrated into the implants, resulting in premature cell death and dysfunction. Whereas increasing oxygenation to the implants has been a major focus in the field, our strategy is aimed at lowering oxygen consumption by downregulating cellular metabolism of cell-based implants. Adenosine, which is a purine nucleoside that functions as an energy transferring molecule, has been reported to increase under hypoxia, resulting in reducing the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) demands of the Na(+)/K(+) ATPase. In the present study, we investigated whether adenosine could be used to downregulate cellular metabolism to achieve prolonged survival under hypoxic conditions. Murine myoblasts (C2C12) lacking a self-survival mechanism were treated with adenosine under 0.1% hypoxic stress. The cells, cultured in the presence of 5 mM adenosine, maintained their viability under hypoxia, and regained their normal growth and function of forming myotubes when transferred to normoxic conditions at day 11 without further supply of adenosine, whereas nontreated cells failed to survive. An increase in adenosine concentrations shortened the onset of reproliferation after transfer to normoxic conditions. This increase correlated with an increase in metabolic downregulation during the early phase of hypoxia. A higher intracellular ATP level was observed in adenosine-treated cells throughout the duration of hypoxia. This strategy of increasing cell survival under hypoxic conditions through downregulating cellular metabolism may be utilized for cell-based tissue regeneration applications as well as protecting tissues against hypoxic injuries.

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