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HypoxyLab™ Bench-top physiological oxygen incubator and workstation

Authentic physoxia in a bench-top hypoxia incubator/workstation.

  • Compact and portable
  • Substantially redesigned in 2021 for a more spacious working environment.
  • Regulated using oxygen partial pressure for true hypoxia/physoxia
  • Mimics the in vivo cellular oxygen environment
  • Rapid equilibration / frugal gas consumption
  • HEPA filtration built-in
  • Brilliantly ergonomic design
  • Intuitive touch-screen operation
  • Supports OxyLite™ for in situ dissolved oxygen measurements
  • Optional miniature digital microscope available
  • 5-year manufacturer's warranty*


In the field of tissue culture, there is a rapidly growing appreciation that a physiological cellular oxygen environment is essential for the analysis of cellular processes with respect to function and metabolism.

Rising to this challenge, Oxford Optronix has developed the HypoxyLab™ - a fully-featured, ergonomically engineered and easy to use normoxia/hypoxia workstation that provides a HEPA-filtered environment in which oxygen, carbon dioxide, temperature and humidity can be precisely controlled.

In short, HypoxyLab™ is a compact hypoxia workstation and incubator for everyday use, suitable for applications including,

  • Cancer, radiation and apoptosis cell biology
  • Stem cell research
  • Neurosciences research
  • Human virology research
  • Multidisciplinary drug development and proteomics

* 5-year manufacturer's warranty is conditional upon annual preventative maintenance servicing

Key Benefits

True physiological oxygen (Physoxia)

As every scientist knows, it’s the partial pressure of oxygen that reflects the oxygen that cells actually ‘see’. The partial pressure of oxygen varies not only with oxygen concentration in the atmosphere, but also with altitude and prevailing weather conditions. We believe it is simply implausible to express hypoxia in terms of a (barometrically uncompensated) percent oxygen concentration alone. HypoxyLab is the world’s first and only hypoxia chamber that directly regulates its environment using the partial pressure of oxygen, expressed in units of mmHg or kPa, and is thereby insensitive to changing climatic conditions or the altitude of the laboratory. This scientifically rigorous approach enhances HypoxyLab's accuracy and provides researchers with scientific certainty and the ability to replicate ‘real-life’ hypoxia in vitro at the highest level of accuracy achievable.

Rapid, efficient, accurate

HypoxyLab creates a fully humidified, stable hypoxia environment less than 20 minutes from switch-on and can deliver stable, near-anoxia conditions in under an hour, all while consuming surprisingly little nitrogen gas. Environmental conditions are delivered using digital gas flow controllers and state-of-the-art sensors for unrivalled performance with an oxygen accuracy of up to +/- 1 mmHg.

In situ dissolved oxygen from media and cultures

HypoxyLab supports the measurement of dissolved oxygen directly from media or cell cultures using any of our OxyLite™ oxygen monitors and a dedicated, sealable side-gland via which an OxyLite oxygen sensor can be fed into the chamber. Considered the ‘gold standard’ for biological applications, the OxyLite sensor is a tiny, highly accurate, non oxygen-consuming sensor that can be positioned anywhere within media or cell cultures to obtain continuous dissolved oxygen measurements, thereby providing the ability to measure oxygen availability in the microenvironment where cells are actually growing. Oxygen readings (in mmHg) can be read from the OxyLite display, or can even be displayed and recorded by the HypoxyLab itself.

OxyLite and OxyLite sensor
Optional OxyLite monitor and sensors permit in situ dissolved oxygen measurements from media and cell cultures.

Live cell imaging

We have teamed with CytoSMART™ to offer the Lux2 digital microscope system, an extremely compact digital microscope solution that can be deployed within the HypoxyLab and is built to withstand long-term exposure to tissue culture environments. The system is supplied with software for installation on a PC kept outside the HypoxyLab and on which live cell culture images are displayed. The CytoSMART™ Lux2 supports time-lapse recording and cloud-based data access.

CytoSMART Lux2
CytoSMART™ Lux2 digital microscope

Contamination control

HypoxyLab includes a built-in UV source within the water reservoir and a user replaceable HEPA filter that continuously scrubs the chamber atmosphere, ensuring that cultures and media are protected from contamination.

HEPA filter
Replaceable HEPA filter unit

Touchscreen display

Chamber oxygen, CO2, humidity and temperature are all set and controlled from the intuitively designed, integrated touchscreen, which simultaneously displays the current real-time levels of these parameters in both digital and trace formats.

Set point control
HypoxyLab touch screen

Automated oxygen profiles

A fully customizable oxygen profile program is available from the touch screen, with which the HypoxyLab can be set to automatically subject cells to up to 8 sequentially defined oxygen concentrations, including an option to keep looping the program.

Oxygen profile programming function

Data logging

The 4 key environmental parameters are continuously recorded onto internal flash memory and can be exported to a USB flash drive via a port at the rear of the HypoxyLab at any time. Data files can be analyzed and played back using the free LabChart® Reader by ADInstruments.

Easy-entry system

HypoxyLab’s Easy-Entry hatch system affords quick and convenient transfer of cells, culture-ware and media into the chamber without the need for complicated air locks and isolation hatches. While items are passed through the hatch, HypoxyLab applies the precise gas composition necessary to maintain steady-state conditions. This immediate response eliminates fluctuations in the pO2 of cell media during operation of the Easy-Entry system. An internal ‘letterbox’ style flap acts as an additional barrier against gas displacement when the hatch is opened.

Easy-Entry door
No transfer hatch required! Pass samples through the letter box without upsetting the internal environment

Lightweight cover / Ergonomic design

HypoxyLab’s lightweight and durable cover can be easily removed. This not only allows for easy loading of media and consumables but makes routine cleaning and disinfecting of the workstation a practical reality. Its ergonomic design ensures natural, relaxed operation, with an angled vision panel combined with adjustable LED illumination that provide excellent visibility.

Removable cover
The lightweight cover simply lifts off the base

Cost of ownership advantage

HypoxyLab’s compact and considered design ensures rapid equilibration to set points combined with frugal gas consumption. Service-free oxygen sensors and a user changeable HEPA filter simplify routine maintenance and minimize the long-term cost of owning a HypoxyLab.


Rationale for hypoxic cell culture

Cells react in different ways both metabolically and morphologically depending on the environmental factors maintaining and interacting with them.

In tissue culture, faithfully reproducing the in vivo cell environment is vital for accurate analysis of both cell metabolism and cell function.

It is commonly accepted that cells in vivo experience oxygen concentrations in the range of 5 – 80 mmHg (approx. 0.5 – 10% oxygen), depending on the tissue type. Yet the vast majority of cell biology research is still performed in incubators in which cells are exposed to atmospheric oxygen levels (circa 21%), a 'hyperoxic' state for most cell types. In other words, the oxygen concentration typically encountered by cells in traditional incubators is at least twice that experienced in normal tissues.

Culturing cells in such oxygen-rich environments can have profound implications on cell metabolism and signalling pathways. Famously the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) pathways clearly illustrate the importance of environment oxygen in cellular metabolism.

By delivering a contamination-free environment that offers precise and continuous control of oxygen, as well as of CO2, temperature and humidity, HypoxyLab delivers a powerful solution to research and industry looking to reproduce representative physiological conditions in cell-based research.

Meanwhile, it is the partial pressure of oxygen, not merely the % oxygen concentration that cells in culture actually ‘see’. HypoxyLab adopts this fundamental scientific principle and controls the chamber environment using the partial pressure of oxygen (pO2) expressed directly in SI units of mmHg or kPa. Since the partial pressure of oxygen varies not only with oxygen concentration but also with altitude and prevailing atmospheric pressure, this scientifically rigorous approach substantially enhances HypoxyLab’s performance accuracy relative to other hypoxia chambers and workstations that rely on % oxygen concentration control alone.


COVID-19 and Cellular Hypoxia

by Justin Croft, 6 September 2021


User Testimonials

“Working with the HypoxyLab is great. It is reliable, easy to use and requires quite little gas (as compared to larger chambers). Especially the possibility of using pre-defined oxygenation profiles is an important additional benefit. During these profiles the composition of the gas is changed rapidly and the actual gas fractions are well documented continuously. This feature allows interesting hypoxia/re-oxygenation experiments.”
Prof. Oliver Thews, Faculty of Medicine, Martin-Luther-University, Halle-Wittenberg, Germany
“The experience with the HypoxyLab has been great. It’s footprint is very small, a distinct advantage. The quality of technical support/service available is unmatched. Issues have been addressed by Oxford Optronix very swiftly and accurately along with a very personalized service.”
Dr. Anurag Kulkarni, Department of Medicine, Imperial College, London, UK


Gas control Microprocessor controlled, 3 channel Digital Electronic Flow Controller (DEFC)
Gases Air, Nitrogen, CO2 (1-4 bar inlet pressure)
Contamination control  Integrated HEPA filtration 
Chamber working volume approx. 130L
Chamber working area approx. 500 mm (W) x 390 mm (D) 
Chamber storage capacity up to 40 multi-well plates or 10 cm Petri dishes (assumes 2 shelf units; excludes storage on working area)
Maximum gas flow rate 15L/minute/gas
Transfer hatch ‘Easy-Entry’ letterbox with internal flap (usable dimensions 204 mm (W) x 88 mm (H))
Power Auto-switching 110 – 240V AC 50/60 Hz, 500W max
Enclosure PET-G. Lightweight and removable
Colour touchscreen Integrated
External USB ports 1 x Type A (data recording and firmware upgrades) ; 1 x Type mini-B (pass-thru port for internal digital devices)
Internal, powered USB port Integrated
External dimensions 800 mm (H) x 590 mm (W) x 690 mm (D)
Weight 25 Kg / 55 lbs
Operating temperature range 15 – 30 °C
Oxygen control method Feedback algorithm with auto PID – using DEFC and optical O2 sensor
Oxygen control range 1 – 140 mmHg; user programmable via touchscreen
Oxygen calibration None required 
Oxygen accuracy ± 0.5 mmHg (1-20 mmHg) ; ± 1 mmHg (21-40 mmHg) ; ± 2 mmHg (41-80 mmHg) ; ± 3 mmHg (81-140 mmHg)
Oxygen resolution 1 mmHg
CO2 control method Feedback algorithm with auto PID – using DEFC and IR CO2 sensor
CO2 control range 0 – 10.0%; user programmable via touchscreen
CO2 calibration Manual, user calibration via touchscreen
CO2 accuracy ± 0.25%
CO2 resolution 0.10%
Temp control method Feedback auto PID – using Class A Pt sensor
Temp control range Ambient +5°C (min 20°C) – 45 °C; user programmable via touchscreen
Temp calibration None required
Temp accuracy  ± 0.5 °C
Temp resolution 0.1 °C
Temp gradient across chamber ± 0.5 °C
Humidity control method Nebuliser with auto PID using pre-calibrated capacitive sensor
Humidity calibration None required
Humidity control range Ambient – 85% RH; user programmable via touchscreen
Humidity accuracy ± 2.5% RH
Humidity resolution 1% RH


Frequently Asked Questions

What is HypoxyLab™?

HypoxyLab is a cell culture incubator and hands-on workstation that accurately mimics and maintains true physiological oxygen conditions, as well as maintaining temperature, humidity and CO2 conditions like any standard cell culture incubator.

How does HypoxyLab™ differ from other hypoxia workstations?

The HypoxyLab is highly compact, can fit on an ordinary lab bench, does not require the use of a transfer hatch, features built-in HEPA filtration, active humidification and regulates its oxygen environment using the absolute partial pressure of oxygen for maximum precision.

Why mmHg instead of % oxygen?

Using the partial pressure of oxygen to control the oxygen environment within HypoxyLab is simply the more scientifically rigorous thing to do! Since atmospheric (barometric) pressure changes with weather patterns (as well as with altitude), so does the oxygen concentration if it is merely maintained as a percentage thereof. Instead, HypoxyLab uses the partial pressure of oxygen to compensate for barometric pressure fluctuations (or differences in laboratory altitude), ensuring that cells in culture 'experience' a consistent oxygen concentration.

How do I get items in and out of the system?

Cell culture plates, medium, pipettors and other objects can be moved in an out of the HypoxyLab via the simple to operate easy-entry hatch at the front, or can be placed into the chamber prior to the start of the experiment by simply lifting off the whole enclosure cover.

Does external air enter the HypoxyLab™ when I open the easy-entry hatch?

The HypoxyLab strictly minimizes the ingress of external air by detecting the opening of the hatch and transiently generating a slight over-pressure. Some external air will enter the chamber but the system is so quick to correct for any atmospheric oxygen ingress that there can be no adverse effect on cell cultures being maintained.

Do I have to wear gloves to operate HypoxyLab?

There is no requirement per se for the operator to wear gloves, however, as with all cell culture work, wearing gloves represents good laboratory practice.

How can I clean the HypoxyLab™?

The HypoxyLab can be easily cleaned/disinfected using 70% ethanol or hydrogen peroxide based surface cleaners by removing the enclosure cover to expose all internal parts. The same applies to the enclosure cover, which can be easily and quickly removed.

What gases are required to operate HypoxyLab™?

3 gases are required, namely: synthetic air (20% oxygen balanced in nitrogen), 100% CO2 and 100% nitrogen. All gases should be of typical laboratory grade purity (we suggest 99.995% ('N4.5') or better) and be supplied at between 1 - 4 bar (15 - 60 PSI) pressure for synthetic air and CO2, and at between 3 - 5 bar (45 - 75 PSI) pressure for nitrogen.

Is the user protected from substances inside the HypoxyLab™?

No. While the HypoxyLab features a built-in HEPA filter that continuously ‘scrubs’ the internal atmosphere, the system does vent externally. The HypoxyLab is NOT therefore a substitute for a fume cupboard or a biological safety cabinet.

How clean is the internal environment?

The built-in HEPA filtration system achieves an atmosphere equivalent to, or better than, ISO 14644-1 Class 2 within 60 seconds of power-up, ensuring that cultures and media are protected from the risk of contamination.

Can I measure dissolved oxygen levels directly from within my cell cultures?

Yes. The HypoxyLab features a dedicated side-gland that supports our fibre-optic dissolved oxygen sensors, which are capable of reading absolute dissolved oxygen in units of mmHg directly from media or cell culture dishes. This requires any one of our OxyLite™ oxygen monitors.

Does the user need to be standing to operate the HypoxyLab™?

The system can be operated standing up or from a seated position. A height-adjustable stool is recommended for seated operation.

What is the typical nitrogen consumption rate of the HypoxyLab™?

Nitrogen is used both to generate and maintain an internal hypoxic environment and to generate the temporary over-pressure when the easy-entry hatch is operated. Of the 3 required gases nitrogen is therefore consumed the quickest. While usage rates will be extremely dependent on the conditions being maintained and the usage ‘profile’, we estimate that a large (50L water volume) bottle of compressed nitrogen will last 1-2 weeks with typical daily use of the system.

Do I have access to the trace data displayed on the touch-screen?

Yes. Data are automatically and continuously stored to internal memory and can be copied to an external USB media at any time. The internal memory is sufficient for approx. 2 weeks of continuous recordings, at which point old data files are progressively overwritten. Data are written in a format that can be read by LabChart Reader software, available for free from ADInstruments.

Journal Citations

Journal Citations

(Updated: June 2021)

Rapid Evaluation of Novel Therapeutic Strategies Using a 3D Collagen-Based Tissue-Like Model. Maury P, Porcel E, Mau A, Lux F, Tillement O, Mahou P, Schanne-Klein MC, and Lacombe S (2021). Front Bioeng Biotechnol. 2021 Feb 16;9:574035. doi: 10.3389/fbioe.2021.574035. eCollection 2021

Differentiated cells in prolonged hypoxia produce highly infectious native-like hepatitis C virus particles (2021). Cochard J, Bull-Maurer A, Tauber C, Burlaud-Gaillard J, Mazurier F, Meunier J-C, Roingeard P and Chouteau P. Hepatology. 2021 Mar 4. doi: 10.1002/hep.31788. Online ahead of print

Impact of the acidic environment on gene expression and functional parameters of tumors in vitro and in vivo (2021). Rauschner M, Lange L, Hüsing T, Reime S, Nolze A, Maschek M, Thews O & Riemann A. J Exp Clin Cancer Res, 40:10

SMARCB1 Promotes Ubiquitination and Degradation of NR4A3 via Direct Interaction Driven by ROS in Vascular Endothelial Cell Injury (2020). Lu B, et. al. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2020 Oct 23;2020:2048210

Hypoxia Drives Dihydropyrimidine Dehydrogenase Expression in Macrophages and Confers Chemoresistance in Colorectal Cancer (2020). Malier M, Court M, Gharzeddine K, Laverierre M-H, Marsili S, Thomas F, Decaens T, Roth G & Millet A.

Lactate preconditioning promotes a HIF-1α-mediated metabolic shift from OXPHOS to glycolysis in normal human diploid fibroblasts (2020). Kozlov AM, Lone A, Betts DH & Cumming RC. Nature Scientific Reports 10, 8388

Hypercapnia potentiates HIF-1α activation in the brain of rats exposed to intermittent hypoxia (2020). Tregubab PP, Malinovskayaa NA, Morguna AV, Osipovaa ED, Kulikovb VP, Kuzovkova DA, and Kovzelevc PD. J. Resp 278, 103442

Inhibition of Carbonic Anhydrase IX by Ureidosulfonamide Inhibitor U104 Reduces Prostate Cancer Cell Growth.... (2019). Riemann A, Güttler A, Haupt V, Wichmann H, Reime S, Bache M, Vordermark D and Thews O. Oncology Research

Proteomic Analysis of Human Macrophage Polarization Under a Low Oxygen Environment (2019). Court M, Malier M and Millet A. J. Vis. Exp.

The effect of hypoxia on ZEB1 expression in a mimetic system of the blood-brain barrier (2018). Leduc-Galindo D, Qvist P, Tóth AE, Fryland T, Nielsen MS, Børglum AD and Christensen JH. Microvascular Research

Acidic extracellular environment affects miRNA expression in tumors in vitro and in vivo (2018). Riemann A, Reime S, and Thews O. Int J Cancer

Induction and Assessment of Hypoxia in Glioblastoma Cells In Vitro (2018). Gagner JP, Lechpammer M and Zagzag D. Methods Mol Biol.

Tumor Acidosis and Hypoxia Differently Modulate the Inflammatory Program: Measurements In Vitro and In Vivo (2017). Riemann A, Reime S and Thews O. Neoplasia

Glucose Metabolism and Oxygen Availability Govern Reactivation of the Latent Human Retrovirus HTLV-1 (2017). Kulkarni A, Mateus M, Thinnes CC, McCullagh JS, Schofield CJ, Taylor GP and Bangham CRM. Cell Chemical Biology




CytoSMART™ Lux2 digital microscope for live cell imaging, incl. Connect Lifespan…

Oxford Optronix cover


Purpose designed, stretchy thermal jacket for HypoxyLab

Hl107 eu

Gas regulator

0-6 Bar, 2-stage regulator

Gas regulator

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