Characterization of an oxygen-tolerant cell line derived from Chinese hamster ovary. Antioxygenic enzyme levels and ultrastructural morphometry of peroxisomes and mitochondria

P van der Valk, J J Gille, A B Oostra, E W Roubos, T Sminia, H Joenje

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To study the cellular defense mechanism against oxygen toxicity, an oxygen-tolerant cell line from Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) was obtained by multistep adaptation to increased O2 levels. The hyperoxia-adapted (HA) cells were able to proliferate under an atmosphere of 99% O2/1% CO2, an O2 tension lethal to the parental (control) cells. When grown under normoxic conditions (20% O2/1% CO2/79% N2) the cells remained tolerant for at least 8 weeks, suggesting a genetic basis for the oxygen tolerance. Compared to the parental cells, the HA cells were irregularly shaped, had larger mitochondria, contained more lipid droplets and showed a reduced growth rate. Ultrastructural morphometry revealed a 1.8-fold (p less than 0.001) increase of the mitochondrial volume fraction in the HA cells, resulting from an increase in both number and average volume of the mitochondria. The volume fraction of peroxisomes was increased over two-fold in the HA cells, as appeared from a approximately 1.9-fold (p less than 0.001) increase in number and a 1.2-fold (p less than 0.025) increase in size. There was no evidence for ultrastructural damage in the HA cells. Specific activities of antioxygenic enzymes were considerably higher in the HA cells compared to controls: CuZn-superoxide dismutase, X 2.5; Mn-superoxide dismutase, X 2.1; catalase, X 4.0; glutathione peroxidase, X 1.9. Oxygen tolerance in CHO cells is therefore associated with increased levels of antioxygenic enzymes, confirming the proposed important role of these enzymes in the defense against oxygen toxicity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-8
Number of pages8
JournalCell and Tissue Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1985


  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animals
  • Catalase/metabolism
  • Cell Line
  • Cricetinae
  • Cricetulus
  • Female
  • Glutathione Peroxidase/metabolism
  • Microbodies/ultrastructure
  • Mitochondria/ultrastructure
  • Ovary/enzymology
  • Oxygen/pharmacology
  • Peroxidases/metabolism
  • Superoxide Dismutase/metabolism

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