Low oxygen enhances sickle and normal erythropoiesis and fetal hemoglobin synthesis in vitro

R. S. Weinberg, R. Acosta, M. E. Knobloch, M. Garber, B. P. Alter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Erythropoiesis is increased in cultures of human blood progenitors when oxygen tension is reduced from 20% (room air) to 5% (low oxygen, closer to physiological bone marrow levels). The effects of low oxygen on γglobin synthesis and colony growth in methyl cellulose cultures of blood mononuclear cells from normal individuals and patients with sickle cell diseases were examined. Low oxygen increased colony numbers by 1.5- to 2-fold and erythropoietin sensitivity by almost 2-fold. The interval required for maximal colony growth in cultures from patients with sickle cell disease (sickle colonies) was reduced from 17 days in 20% oxygen to 13 days in 5% oxygen. Relative synthesis of γglobin was examined by labeling with -3H-leucine and electrophoresis on Triton acid urea poly-acrylamide gels. The % γ was 1.7-fold higher in normal and 1.4-fold higher in sickle cultures on day 13 in low oxygen. On day 16 the expected temporal decline was not seen in low oxygen, and the % γ was 2-fold higher in normal and 1.8-fold higher in the sickle studies. Hemin increased colony growth and γglobin synthesis in normal cultures in air, and the effects of hemin and low oxygen were additive. In sickle cultures, hemin and low oxygen had additive effects on colony growth, but only low oxygen increased γglobin synthesis. Interleukin-3 increased colony numbers on day 13, primarily by acceleration of peak growth. Interleukin-3 also increased γglobin synthesis in low oxygen in normal but not sickle cultures. Thus, low oxygen increases in vitro sensitivity to erythropoietin, colony numbers, and relative γglobin synthesis in normal and sickle cultures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)263-275
Number of pages13
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical
  • Biochemistry


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