High oxygen concentrations were shown to have a powerful growth-inhibitory effect on HeLa cultures. Initially there was a generalized reduction in the rate of cell division and in the biosynthesis of DNA, RNA, and protein, a shift in glucose metabolism to a completely anaerobic pattern, and an accompanying acceleration in the rate of glucose utilization. After about one generation time cell division ceased completely. Finally, after about 36 hours the lethal effect of the oxygen lesion was expressed as a failure of polymer biosynthesis and rapid loss of reproductive powers.

The optimal oxygen concentration for HeLa cells growing in Eagle's medium is 20–30 per cent, or about that concentration found in air.


This work was supported by a grant from the Alexander and Margaret Stewart Trust Fund, Grant No C-1897 from the United States Public Health Service, and a grant from the T. Evans Brittingham Estate.

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