Accumulating data show that oxygen tension can have an important effect on cell function and fate. We used the human pre-osteoblastic cell line SV-HFO, which forms a mineralizing extracellular matrix, to study the effect of low oxygen tension (2%) on osteoblast differentiation and mineralization. Mineralization was significantly reduced by 60-70% under 2% oxygen, which was paralleled by lower intracellular levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and apoptosis. Following this reduction in ROS the cells switched to a lower level of protection by down-regulating their antioxidant enzyme expression. The downside of this is that it left the cells more vulnerable to a subsequent oxidative challenge. Total collagen content was reduced in the 2% oxygen cultures and expression of matrix genes and matrix-metabolizing enzymes was significantly affected. Alkaline phosphatase activity and RNA expression as well as RUNX2 expression were significantly reduced under 2% oxygen. Time phase studies showed that high oxygen in the first phase of osteoblast differentiation and prior to mineralization is crucial for optimal differentiation and mineralization. Switching to 2% or 20% oxygen only during mineralization phase did not change the eventual level of mineralization. In conclusion, this study shows the significance of oxygen tension for proper osteoblast differentiation, extra cellular matrix (ECM) formation, and eventual mineralization. We demonstrated that the major impact of oxygen tension is in the early phase of osteoblast differentiation. Low oxygen in this phase leaves the cells in a premature differentiation state that cannot provide the correct signals for matrix maturation and mineralization.,
Journal of Cellular Physiology
Department of Internal Medicine

Nicolaije, C., Koedam, M., & van Leeuwen, H. (2012). Decreased oxygen tension lowers reactive oxygen species and apoptosis and inhibits osteoblast matrix mineralization through changes in early osteoblast differentiation. Journal of Cellular Physiology, 227(4), 1309–1318. doi:10.1002/jcp.22841