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    Monitoring of cell oxygenation and responses to metabolic stimulation by intracellular oxygen sensing technique
    Quenched-phosphorescence oxygen (O2) sensing technique allows non-invasive, real-time monitoring of both intra- and extracellular O2 concentration in respiring samples. Using this technique we investigated O2 gradients in populations of neurosecretory PC12 cells cultured in 96-well plates and exposed to graded hypoxia at rest and upon metabolic stimulation. Under high atmospheric O2 (10–21%) the respiration of resting cells dictated that local O2 was moderately reduced, and at a certain threshold (6% in galactose medium) cell layer became practically anoxic. Furthermore, cell stimulation triggered a major redistribution of O2 and a prominent ‘hypoxic overshoot’ mediated by diffusion. The deep, prolonged cell deoxygenation upon stimulation was matched by an increase in nuclear HIF-1α levels. In the presence of nitric oxide the hypoxic overshoot was truncated and HIF-1α stabilization inhibited. Thus, the main determinants which impact upon cellular O2 levels and oxygen-sensitive signaling pathways are the atmospheric O2, sample geometry, cell density, respiration rate and its dynamics. Changes in any of these parameters can significantly alter the O2 levels experienced by the cells and the subsequently activated signaling pathways. This technique, which provides simple and reliable monitoring of cell oxygenation, is therefore important for hypoxia research, metabolic studies and experiments with respiring cells.
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