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Toxicology – In Vitro

Oxygen is an important regulator of cell function. Physiologic O2 (or physioxia) is much lower than oxygen levels provided in most cell-based toxicology assays (room air – 21% oxygen). In the body, cells experience a range of tissue O2 levels but they never endure room air: liver (3-9%), brain (1-6%), heart (2-5%), lung (10-13%), skin (1-4%), kidney (1-6%), bone marrow (0.1-7%), vascular (2-5%),and retinal (2-5%).

Oxygen regulates the toxicity response of:


Toxicologists are using new tools to culture, handle, and analyze in vitro toxicity assays under biologically relevant conditions. To enhance in vitro-in vivo correlation, the incubator subchamber is an economical option that adds O2 control to CO2 incubators. Handling cells outside the incubator in open BSCs/hoods disrupts the in vivo-like conditions provided in the physioxia chamber. These interruptions diminish assay reproducibility and they are prevented by performing the entire in vitro toxicology workflow under continuous, non-interrupted physiologic conditions. Physioxia workstations combine one or more individually controlled incubators with closed hoods permitting continuous control of assay conditions (O2, CO2, and Temp) during all steps of cell incubation, handling, and analysis. Now that you have learned more about oxygen regulation with in vitro toxicology, discover some BioSpherix equipment options below.

Cell Equipment

ProOx C21 & C-Chamber

The physioxic incubator subchamber, ProOx C21 & C-Chamber allows researchers to add O2 control to existing CO2 incubators without increasing the laboratory’s equipment footprint. Use two or more ProOx C21 & C-Chamber oxygen chambers to provide simultaneous control at multiple physiologic O2 levels.

Xvivo System

The Xvivo System from BioSpherix Ltd is a physioxic workstation that combines one or more O2 incubators with attachable closed hoods. This provides non-varying physiological oxygen conditions during the entire cell experiment. The Xvivo System may be outfitted with multiple O2 incubators empowering investigators with the ability to perform experiments at multiple, different O2 tensions at the same time. The Xvivo System’s modular physioxia hoods are connected to the incubator chamber(s) to permit cell handling under the same conditions found in the incubator.

Plate Readers, Real-time Imagers, & Cell Analyzers

Enclose platforms like:

Phase Holographic Imaging Holomonitor

The Xvivo System’s modular physiologic oxygen hoods enclose 3rd-party instruments in order that well plates may be read, imaged, and analyzed under the same conditions found in the incubator.

Discover More


Bordt EA. The importance of controlling in vitro oxygen tension to accurately model in vivo neurophysiology. Neurotoxicology. 2018 May;66:213-220.

Coyle JP, et al. Reduced oxygen tension culturing conditionally alters toxicogenic response of differentiated H9c2 cardiomyoblasts to acrolein. Toxicol Mech Methods. 2018 Sep;28(7):488-498.

Nzou G, et al. Human Cortex Spheroid with a Functional Blood Brain Barrier for High-Throughput Neurotoxicity Screening and Disease Modeling. Sci Rep. 2018 May 9;8(1):7413.

Kumar A, et al. Quantifying the magnitude of the oxygen artefact inherent in culturing airway cells under atmospheric oxygen versus physiological levels. FEBS Lett. 2016 Jan;590(2):258-69.

Vorrink SU, et al. Hypoxia perturbs aryl hydrocarbon receptor signaling and CYP1A1 expression induced by PCB 126 in human skin and liver-derived cell lines. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2014 Feb 1;274(3):408-16.

Blog Posts

Cytocentric Blog – Interview with Cytocentric Visionary: Ian Mudway, Lecturer – Respiratory Toxicology Lung Biology Group , King’s College London

Part One: What Are the Fundamental Things That We Absolutely Have To Get Right?

Part Two: Taking a Career Risk for Better Cell Culture and Better Science

Part Three: We Will Know We Have Gotten Through When People Complain About the Difficulties of Publishing Data Generated under Atmospheric Oxygen


BioSpherix 2018 Society of Toxicology – Supraphysioxic Room Air Adaptation of Human Lung A549 Cells Affects Silver Nanoparticle Toxicity Assays