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Defining physiological normoxia for improved translation of cell physiology to animal models and humans

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-234
Number of pages74
JournalPhysiological Reviews
Issue number1
Early online date24 Oct 2018
Accepted/In press6 May 2018
E-pub ahead of print24 Oct 2018
Published1 Jan 2019
Event19th Society for Free Radical Research International Meeting, Lisboa, Portugal 4-7 June 2018 [Symposium: Molecular Oxygen in Health And Disease: One Tissue’s Hypoxia is Another’s Hyperoxia]: 19th SFRRI Lisboa 2018 - Lisbon Conference Center, Lisbon , Portugal
Duration: 4 Jun 20187 Jun 2018


King's Authors


The extensive oxygen gradient between the air we breathe (PO2 ~21 kPa) and its ultimate distribution within mitochondria (as low as ~0.5-1 kPa) is testament to the efforts expended in limiting its inherent toxicity. It has long been recognised that cell culture undertaken under room air conditions falls short of replicating this protection in vitro. Despite this, difficulty in accurately determining the appropriate O2 level(s) in which to culture cells, coupled with a lack of the technology to replicate and maintain a physiological O2 environment in vitro, has hindered addressing this issue thus far. In this review, we aim to address the current understanding of tissue PO2 distribution in vivo¬, and summarize the attempts made to replicate these conditions in vitro. The state-of-the-art techniques employed to accurately determine O2 levels, as well as the issues associated with reproducing physiological O2 levels in vitro, are also critically reviewed. We aim to provide the framework for researchers to undertake cell culture under O2 levels relevant to specific tissues and organs. We envisage that this review will facilitate a paradigm shift, enabling translation of findings under physiological conditions in vitro to disease pathology and the design of novel therapeutics.

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