Hypoxia Impairs Muscle Function and Reduces Myotube Size in Tissue Engineered Skeletal Muscle

Neil R.W. Martin, Kathyrn Aguilar-Agon, George P. Robinson, Darren J. Player, Mark C. Turner, Stephen D. Myers, Mark P. Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)
24 Downloads (Pure)


Contemporary tissue engineered skeletal muscle models display a high degree of physiological accuracy compared with native tissue, and therefore may be excellent platforms to understand how various pathologies affect skeletal muscle. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a lung disease which causes tissue hypoxia and is characterized by muscle fiber atrophy and impaired muscle function. In the present study we exposed engineered skeletal muscle to varying levels of oxygen (O2; 21–1%) for 24 h in order to see if a COPD like muscle phenotype could be recreated in vitro, and if so, at what degree of hypoxia this occurred. Maximal contractile force was attenuated in hypoxia compared to 21% O2; with culture at 5% and 1% O2 causing the most pronounced effects with 62% and 56% decrements in force, respectively. Furthermore at these levels of O2, myotubes within the engineered muscles displayed significant atrophy which was not seen at higher O2 levels. At the molecular level we observed increases in mRNA expression of MuRF-1 only at 1% O2 whereas MAFbx expression was elevated at 10%, 5%, and 1% O2. In addition, p70S6 kinase phosphorylation (a downstream effector of mTORC1) was reduced when engineered muscle was cultured at 1% O2, with no significant changes seen above this O2 level. Overall, these data suggest that engineered muscle exposed to O2 levels of ≤5% adapts in a manner similar to that seen in COPD patients, and thus may provide a novel model for further understanding muscle wasting associated with tissue hypoxia. J. Cell. Biochem. 118: 2599–2605, 2017.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2599-2605
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Cellular Biochemistry
Issue number9
Early online date10 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


  • mTORC1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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