Lack of bubble formation in hypobarically decompressed cells

Aviat Space Environ Med. 1987 Aug;58(8):742-6.


Suspensions of human erythrocytes or of unicellular microorganisms (Tetrahymena pyriformis, Euglena gracilis, Escherichia coli, and Microcyclus aquaticus) were equilibrated with nitrogen gas pressures up to 200 atm and rapidly decompressed to hypobaric pressures below the vapor point of water. The intracellular environments proved to be very tolerant to the gas supersaturations induced. None or only a few cells were damaged in each case, and bubbles were never observed intracellularly after decompression. In view of such extreme tolerances, it is doubtful that bubbles originate intracellularly during decompression of multicellular organisms, in which bubbles occur with far lower gas supersaturations, unless the tolerances are greatly affected by extensive mechanical deformations of the cells or by the presence of internalized particles with bubble-promoting properties.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena
  • Cell Physiological Phenomena*
  • Cell Wall / physiology
  • Decompression*
  • Erythrocytes / physiology
  • Euglena gracilis / physiology
  • Gases
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Tetrahymena pyriformis / physiology


  • Gases