After long-term exposure to real microgravity thyroid gland in vivo undergoes specific changes, follicles are made up of larger thyrocytes that produce more cAMP and express more thyrotropin-receptor, caveolin-1, and sphingomyelinase and sphingomyelin-synthase; parafollicular spaces lose C cells with consequent reduction of calcitonin production. Here we studied four immunohistochemical tumor markers (HBME-1, MIB-1, CK19, and Galectin-3) in thyroid of mice housed in the Mouse Drawer System and maintained for 90 days in the International Space Station. Results showed that MIB-1 proliferative index and CK19 are negative whereas HBME-1 and Galectin-3 are overexpressed. The positivity of Galectin-3 deserves attention not only for its expression but also and especially for its localization. Our results highlighted that, in microgravity conditions, Galectin-3 leaves thyrocytes and diffuses in colloid. It is possible that the gravity force contributes to the maintenance of the distribution of the molecules in both basal membrane side and apical membrane side and that the microgravity facilitates slippage of Galectin-3 in colloid probably due to membrane remodelling-microgravity induced.
Loss of parafollicular cells during gravitational changes (microgravity, hypergravity) and the secret effect of pleiotrophin
It is generally known that bone loss is one of the most important complications for astronauts who are exposed to long-term microgravity in space. Changes in blood flow, systemic hormones, and locally produced factors were indicated as important elements contributing to the response of osteoblastic cells to loading, but research in this field still has many questions. Here, the possible biological involvement of thyroid C cells is being investigated. The paper is a comparison between a case of a wild type single mouse and a over-expressing pleiotrophin single mouse exposed to hypogravity conditions during the first animal experiment of long stay in International Space Station (91 days) and three similar mice exposed to hypergravity (2Gs) conditions. We provide evidence that both microgravity and hypergravity induce similar loss of C cells with reduction of calcitonin production. Pleiotrophin over-expression result in some protection against negative effects of gravity change. Potential implication of the gravity mechanic forces in the regulation of bone homeostasis via thyroid equilibrium is discussed.
Observing the mouse thyroid sphingomyelin under space conditions: a case study from the MDS mission in comparison with hypergravity conditions
This is a case report of apparent thyroid structural and functional alteration in a single mouse subjected to low Earth orbit spaceflight for 91 days. Histological examination of the thyroid gland revealed an increase in the average follicle size compared to that of three control animals and three animals exposed to hypergravity (2g) conditions. Immunoblotting analysis detected an increase in two thyroid gland enzymes, sphingomyelinase and sphingomyelin-synthase1. In addition, sphingomyelinase, an enzyme confined to the cell nucleus in the control animals, was found in the mouse exposed to hypogravity to be homogeneously distributed throughout the cell bodies. It represents the first animal observation of the influence of weightlessness on sphingomyelin metabolism.
Hematologic studies were performed on 21 ground control rats and 21 rats flown during the Spacelab Life Sciences-2 14-day mission. Group A (n = 5) was used to collect blood in flight and 9 days postflight, group B (n = 5) was injected with recombinant human erythropoietin (rhEpo), group C (n = 5) received saline as a control, and group D (n = 6) was killed in flight and tissues were collected. Results indicated no significant changes in peripheral blood erythroid elements between flight and ground control rats. The nonadherent bone marrow on flight day 13 showed a lower number of recombinant rat interleukin-3 (rrIL-3)-responsive and rrIL-3 + rhEpo-responsive blast-forming unit erythroid (BFU-e) colonies in flight rats compared with ground control rats. On landing day, a slight increase in the number of rhEpo + rrIL-3-responsive BFU-e colonies of flight animals compared with ground control rats was evident. Nine days postflight, bone marrow from flight rats stimulated with rhEpo alone or with rhEpo + rrIL-3 showed an increase in the number of colony-forming unit erythroid colonies and a decrease in BFU-e colonies compared with ground control rats. This is the first time that animals were injected with rhEpo and subsequently blood and tissues were collected during the spaceflight to study the regulation of erythropoiesis in microgravity.
Spaceflight results in a number of adaptations to skeletal muscle, including atrophy and shifts toward faster muscle fiber types. To identify changes in gene expression that may underlie these adaptations, we used both microarray expression analysis and real-time polymerase chain reaction to quantify shifts in mRNA levels in the gastrocnemius from mice flown on the 11-day, 19-h STS-108 shuttle flight and from normal gravity controls. Spaceflight data also were compared with the ground-based unloading model of hindlimb suspension, with one group of pure suspension and one of suspension followed by 3.5 h of reloading to mimic the time between landing and euthanization of the spaceflight mice. Analysis of microarray data revealed that 272 mRNAs were significantly altered by spaceflight, the majority of which displayed similar responses to hindlimb suspension, whereas reloading tended to counteract these responses. Several mRNAs altered by spaceflight were associated with muscle growth, including the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase regulatory subunit p85alpha, insulin response substrate-1, the forkhead box O1 transcription factor, and MAFbx/atrogin1. Moreover, myostatin mRNA expression tended to increase, whereas mRNA levels of the myostatin inhibitor FSTL3 tended to decrease, in response to spaceflight. In addition, mRNA levels of the slow oxidative fiber-associated transcriptional coactivator peroxisome proliferator-associated receptor (PPAR)-gamma coactivator-1alpha and the transcription factor PPAR-alpha were significantly decreased in spaceflight gastrocnemius. Finally, spaceflight resulted in a significant decrease in levels of the microRNA miR-206. Together these data demonstrate that spaceflight induces significant changes in mRNA expression of genes associated with muscle growth and fiber type.
Gravity control of growth form in Brassica rapa and Arabidopsis thaliana (Brassicaceae): Consequences for secondary metabolism
How gravity influences the growth form and flavor components of plants is of interest to the space program because plants could be used for food and life support during prolonged missions away from the planet, where that constant feature of Earth's environment does not prevail. We used plant growth hardware from prior experiments on the space shuttle to grow Brassica rapa and Arabidopsis thaliana plants during 16-d or 11-d hypergravity treatments on large-diameter centrifuge rotors. Both species showed radical changes in growth form, becoming more prostrate with increasing g-loads (2-g and 4-g). In Brassica, height decreased and stems thickened in a linear relationship with increasing g-load. Glucosinolates, secondary compounds that contribute flavor to Brassica, decreased by 140% over the range of micro to 4-g, while the structural secondary compound, lignin, remained constant at approximately 15% (w/w) cell wall dry mass. Stem thickening at 4-g was associated with substantial increases in cell size (47%, 226%, and 33% for pith, cortex, and vascular tissue), rather than any change in cell number. The results, which demonstrate the profound effect of gravity on plant growth form and secondary metabolism, are discussed in the context of similar thigmostresses such as touch and wind.
Heart rate variability during centrifugation in astronauts prior to and after long duration spaceflight: Preliminary data
Spaceflight is known to induce vestibular and cardiovascular deconditioning. The current ESA SPIN project conducts research on vestibular and cardiovascular deconditioning after long duration spaceflight. Hereto, vestibular function and cardiovascular parameters are evaluated during centrifugation and during a tilt test in astronauts prior to and after spaceflight. The experiments are conducted using the ‘Visual and Vestibular Investigation System’. During rotation, cardiovascular and breathing parameters are recorded by means of the ‘Lifeshirt® system’ (Vivonoetics). The current analysis focuses on the cardio-respiratory response during 2 consecutive centrifugation runs, a counter clockwise (CCW) and a clockwise (CW). The RR-interval recorded postflight during the second CW rotation decreased significantly compared to the preflight data. No significant effects were observed on the parameters (amplitude, marker of vagal activity, and phase) of the respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA). However, the time of respiration and the amplitude of the RSA were correlated. Our preliminary results suggest a postflight recovery problem of the sympathetic nervous system after activation and show that the respiration has a large influence on the RSA amplitude.
The Constrained Vapor Bubble (CVB) Experiment in the Microgravity Environment of the International Space Station
The Constrained Vapor Bubble (CVB) experiment was run in the microgravity environment of the International Space Station as part of the Increment 23-24 which ended in September 2010. Here we present preliminary results which indicate significant differences in the operation of the CVB heat pipe in the micro-gravity environment as compared to the Earth's gravity. The temperature profile data along the heat pipe indicate that the heat pipe behavior is affected favorably by increased capillary flow and adversely by the absence of convective heat transfer as a heat loss mechanism. Image data of the liquid profile in the grooves of the heat pipe indicate that the curvature gradient is considerably different from that on Earth. An initial discussion of the data collected is presented.
TL dose measurements on board the Russian segment of the ISS by the “Pille” system during Expedition-8, -9 and -10
The “Pille-MKS” thermoluminescent (TL) dosimeter system developed by the KFKI Atomic Energy Research Institute (KFKI AEKI) and BL-Electronics, consisting of 10 CaSO 4 :Dy bulb dosimeters and a compact reader, has been continuously operating on board the International Space Station (ISS) since October 2003. The dosimeter system is utilized for routine and extravehicular activity (EVA) individual dosimetry of astronauts/cosmonauts as part of the service system as well as for on board experiments, and is operated by the Institute for Biomedical Problems (IBMP). The system is unique in that it regularly provides accurate dose data right on board the space station, a feature that became increasingly important during the suspension of the Space Shuttle flights. Seven dosimeters are located at different places of the Russian segment of the ISS and are read out once a month. Two of these dosimeters are dedicated to EVAs and one is kept in the reader and will be read out automatically every 90 min. During coronal mass ejections impacting Earth some of the dosimeters serve for individual monitoring of the astronauts with readouts once or twice every day. In this paper we report the results of dosimetric measurements made on board the ISS during Expedition-8, -9 and -10 using the “Pille” portable thermoluminescent detector (TLD) system and we compare them with our previous measurements on different space stations.