The response of bacteria, yeast, and mammalian and insects cells to oxidative stress is a topic that has been studied for many years. However, in most the reported studies, the oxidative stress was caused by challenging the organisms with H2O2 and redox-cycling drugs, but not by subjecting the cells to high concentrations of molecular oxygen. In this review we summarize available information about the effect of elevated oxygen concentrations on the physiology of microorganisms and cells at various culture conditions. In general, increased oxygen concentrations promote higher leakage of reactive oxygen species (superoxide and H2O2) from the respiratory chain affecting metalloenzymes and DNA that in turn cause impaired growth and elevated mutagenesis. To prevent the potential damage, the microorganisms and cells respond by activating antioxidant defenses and repair systems. This review described the factors that affect growth properties and metabolism at elevated oxygen concentrations that cells may be exposed to, in bioreactor sparged with oxygen enriched air which could affect the yield and quality of the recombinant proteins produced by high cell density schemes.
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