An analysis of some of the physiological factors active in Maitland tissue cultures has been presented in the hope that it may be of some value in clarifying the principles underlying tissue cultures in general.
It has been found that the empirically determined necessity of using relatively small amounts of tissue in such cultures is dependent upon the fact that excessive tissue leads to a rapid change of reaction toward the acid side. Whereas tissue may remain viable in an environment as alkaline as pH 9 and over, viability is rapidly destroyed when the reaction approaches pH 6.
Evidence is presented to indicate that the changes in electrode potentials which take place in Maitland cultures are not, as has been suggested, the determining factors upon which virus multiplication depends, although they may, of course, be incidentally important.
It has been shown that there are fundamental differences between those conditions in Maitland cultures which favor the multiplication of a typical virus and those upon which the growth of the Rickettsiae of typhus fever depends.
The virus which we have studied (equine encephalitis virus, western type) multiplies during the period of active tissue metabolism. The maximum virus titrations are obtained at about the time at which metabolism has come to a standstill. Thereafter the virus not only ceases to increase but rapidly deteriorates. The period of viability of the tissue cells themselves is shortened by several days in the presence of virus multiplication. There is some evidence that a temporary acceleration of oxygen uptake takes place during the time of active virus multiplication. Technical difficulties in controlling such experiments prevent certainty in regard to this point.
In contrast with the conditions determining the growth of a virus agent in the Maitland cultures the multiplication of Rickettsiae does not begin to any determinable extent until after active cell metabolism has either become stabilized or has ceased. The Rickettsiae continue to grow at a time when the cells are no longer viable. It appears likely that these organisms find the most favorable conditions for growth in cells which are no longer metabolically active but in which some delicately heat-susceptible elements have not yet been disturbed. As a consequence of these observations, frozen and preserved embryonic tissues have been successfully used for Rickettsia cultivation. A report on these experiments will be made in a separate communication.