Atmospheric oxygen tension slows myoblast proliferation via mitochondrial activation.

Stephanie Duguez, William Duddy, Viola Gnocchi, James Bowe, Sherry Dadgar, Terence A Partridge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUNDMitochondrial 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)).METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGSMurine 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.CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCEThese 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e43853
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 24 Aug 2012


  • Low Oxygen
  • Muscle Stem Cells
  • cell cyle
  • mitochondria


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