This paper, entitled “Cellular memory of hypoxia elicits neuroblastoma metastasis and enables invasion by non-aggressive neighbouring cells”, was recently published in Oncology, and investigates the link between the level and duration of cells’ exposure to hypoxia and their ability to form metastases.
The researchers acknowledge that oxygen tension is not homogeneous throughout a tumour (as there will be areas of higher and lower oxygen tension within it) and thus seek to investigate the metastatic potential of cells that have been cultured hypoxically in vitro in comparison to those that have not, when implanted into a chick-embryo model.
Their results showed that cells with hypoxic preconditioning formed metastases in vivo, but cells without hypoxic preconditioning did not. These results support the discovery that the cells which were exposed to hypoxic preconditioning have a “memory” of this previous environment when introduced to normoxic conditions.
Cells with hypoxic preconditioning were then mixed with cells without preconditioning before being implanted into the chick embryo in a normoxic co-culture. In this culture system, the cells without hypoxic preconditioning also formed metastases, showing the ability of the cells with hypoxic preconditioning to influence their cellular phenotype via cell to cell contact.
The samples used in this experiment were cultured in a Whitley H35 Hypoxystation, offering reliable results and guaranteeing a controlled and sustained environment throughout the preconditioning period. In comparison, a multi-user hypoxic incubator would have seen re-oxygenation and recovery of the atmosphere every time the door was opened.
In a recent video, Dr Violaine See (University of Liverpool), one of the contributing authors, explained the importance of culturing cells in hypoxia and the merits of using a Whitley Hypoxystation in her work.
Article by Daniel Secker.