Effect of low oxygen tension on transcriptional factor OCT4 and SOX2 expression in New Zealand rabbit bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells

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Background and Aim: Octamer-binding transcription factor 4 (OCT4) and sex-determining region Y-box 2 (SOX2) are transcription factors whose functions are essential to maintain the pluripotency of embryonic stem cells. The purpose of this study was to derive stem cells for in vitro culture and to maintain their viability and pluripotency, with the goal to obtain a cell line for transplantation in patients with degenerative diseases or injuries. This research focused on examining the effect of low oxygen tension on the ability of bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (BM-MSCs) to express OCT4 and SOX2 in vitro. Materials and Methods: BM-MSCs were obtained from femurs of 2000 to 3000 g New Zealand male rabbits. BM-MSCs were divided into three groups to test different culture conditions: A control group under hyperoxia condition (21% O2) and two treatment groups with low oxygen tension (1% and 3% O2). We characterized the BM-MSCs using flow cytometric measurement of cluster differentiation 44 (CD44) and cluster differentiation 90 (CD90) expression. The expression of OCT4 and SOX2 was measured by immunofluorescence staining after 48 h of incubation in chambers with normal or low oxygen tension with controlled internal atmosphere consisting of 95% N2, 5% CO2, and 1% O2 (T1) and 3% O2 (T2). We considered OCT4 and SOX2 as two markers of pluripotency induction. All immunofluorescence data were subjected to a post hoc normality Tukey's honestly significant difference test; all differences with p<5% were considered significant. Results: BM-MSCs were positive for CD44 and CD90 expression after isolation. Oxygen tension culture conditions of 1% and 3% O2 led to OCT4 and SOX2 expression on culture days 2 and 4 (p<0.05), respectively, as compared to the hyperoxia condition (21% O2). Conclusion: Based on the OCT4 and SOX2 immunofluorescence data, we conclude that the stem cells were pluripotent at low O2 tension (at 1% O2 on day 2 and at 3% O2 on day 4), whereas under 21% O2 the OCT4 and SOX2 were not expressed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2469-2476
Number of pages8
JournalVeterinary World
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Bone marrow
  • Cluster differentiation 44
  • Cluster differentiation 90
  • Culture in vitro
  • Low O tension
  • Mesenchymal stem cells
  • Octamer-binding transcription factor 4
  • Pluripotency
  • Sex-determining region Y-box 2


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