Baumann, R. P., Penketh, P. G., Seow, H. A., Shyam, K. and Sartorelli, A. C. Generation of Oxygen Deficiency in Cell Culture Using a Two-Enzyme System to Evaluate Agents Targeting Hypoxic Tumor Cells. Radiat. Res. 170, 651–660 (2008).

The poor and aberrant vascularization of solid tumors makes them susceptible to localized areas of oxygen deficiency that can be considered sites of tumor vulnerability to prodrugs that are preferentially activated to cytotoxic species under conditions of low oxygenation. To readily facilitate the selection of agents targeted to oxygen-deficient cells in solid tumors, we have developed a simple and convenient two-enzyme system to generate oxygen deficiency in cell cultures. Glucose oxidase is employed to deplete oxygen from the medium by selectively oxidizing glucose and reducing molecular oxygen to hydrogen peroxide; an excess of catalase is also used to scavenge the peroxide molecules. Rapid and sustained depletion of oxygen occurs in medium or buffer, even in the presence of oxygen at the liquid/air interface. Studies using CHO/AA8 Chinese hamster cells, EMT6 murine mammary carcinoma cells, and U251 human glioma cells indicate that this system generates an oxygen deficiency that produces activation of the hypoxia-targeted prodrug KS119. This method of generating oxygen deficiency in cell culture is inexpensive, does not require cumbersome equipment, permits longer incubation times to be used without the loss of sample volume, and should be adaptable for high-throughput screening in 96-well plates.

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