Bone is a complex dynamic tissue undergoing a continuous remodeling process. Gravity is a physical force playing a role in the remodeling and contributing to the maintenance of bone integrity. This article reports an investigation on the alterations of the bone microarchitecture that occurred in wild type (Wt) and pleiotrophin-transgenic (PTN-Tg) mice exposed to a near-zero gravity on the International Space Station (ISS) during the Mice Drawer System (MDS) mission, to date, the longest mice permanence (91 days) in space. The transgenic mouse strain over-expressing pleiotrophin (PTN) in bone was selected because of the PTN positive effects on bone turnover. Wt and PTN-Tg control animals were maintained on Earth either in a MDS payload or in a standard vivarium cage. This study revealed a bone loss during spaceflight in the weight-bearing bones of both strains. For both Tg and Wt a decrease of the trabecular number as well as an increase of the mean trabecular separation was observed after flight, whereas trabecular thickness did not show any significant change. Non weight-bearing bones were not affected. The PTN-Tg mice exposed to normal gravity presented a poorer trabecular organization than Wt mice, but interestingly, the expression of the PTN transgene during the flight resulted in some protection against microgravity's negative effects. Moreover, osteocytes of the Wt mice, but not of Tg mice, acquired a round shape, thus showing for the first time osteocyte space-related morphological alterations in vivo. The analysis of specific bone formation and resorption marker expression suggested that the microgravity-induced bone loss was due to both an increased bone resorption and a decreased bone deposition. Apparently, the PTN transgene protection was the result of a higher osteoblast activity in the flight mice.
Research Containing: Animals
To test whether gravity is required for normal amphibian development, Xenopus laevis females were induced to ovulate aboard the orbiting Space Shuttle. Eggs were fertilized in vitro, and although early embryonic stages showed some abnormalities, the embryos were able to regulate and produce nearly normal larvae. These results demonstrate that a vertebrate can ovulate in the virtual absence of gravity and that the eggs can develop to a free-living stage.
Gravity has been a pervasive influence on all living systems and there is convincing evidence to suggest that it alters fertilization and embryogenesis in several developmental systems. Notwithstanding the global importance of gravity on development, it has only been recently possible to begin to design experiments which might directly investigate the specific effects of this vector. The goal of this research program is to explore and understand the effects of gravity on fertilization and early development using sea urchins as a model system. Sea urchin development has several advantages for this project including the feasibility of maintaining and manipulating these cells during spaceflight, the high percentage of normal fertilization and early development, and the abundant knowledge about molecular, biochemical, and cellular events during embryogenesis which permits detailed insights into the mechanism by which gravity might interfere with development. Furthermore, skeletal calcium is deposited into the embryonic spicules within a day of fertilization permitting studies of the effects of gravity on bone calcium deposition.
Spaceflight and hind limb unloading induce similar changes in electrical impedance characteristics of mouse gastrocnemius muscle
OBJECTIVE: To assess the potential of electrical impedance myography (EIM) to serve as a marker of muscle fiber atrophy and secondarily as an indicator of bone deterioration by assessing the effects of spaceflight or hind limb unloading. METHODS: In the first experiment, 6 mice were flown aboard the space shuttle (STS-135) for 13 days and 8 earthbound mice served as controls. In the second experiment, 14 mice underwent hind limb unloading (HLU) for 13 days; 13 additional mice served as controls. EIM measurements were made on ex vivo gastrocnemius muscle. Quantitative microscopy and areal bone mineral density (aBMD) measurements of the hindlimb were also performed. RESULTS: Reductions in the multifrequency phase-slope parameter were observed for both the space flight and HLU cohorts compared to their respective controls. For ground control and spaceflight groups, the values were 24.7+/-1.3 degrees /MHz and 14.1+/-1.6 degrees /MHz, respectively (p=0.0013); for control and HLU groups, the values were 23.9+/-1.6 degrees /MHz and 19.0+/-1.0 degrees /MHz, respectively (p=0.014). This parameter also correlated with muscle fiber size (rho=0.65, p=0.011) for spaceflight and hind limb aBMD (rho=0.65, p=0.0063) for both groups. CONCLUSIONS: These data support the concept that EIM may serve as a useful tool for assessment of muscle disuse secondary to immobilization or microgravity.
This paper summarizes experimental data on the erythropoiesis of rats flown on Cosmos biosatellites for 18-22 days. The histogenesis of the hemopoietic tissue is investigated at the level of stem cells, dividing-maturing pool and mature blood cells (erythrocytes). In weightlessness inhibition of the erythropoiesis in various skeletal sites occurs. Flight data are compared with hemopoietic findings in hypokinetic rats. Possible mechanisms underlying red blood disorders in humans during space flight are discussed. [References: 17]
Development of a Novel Three-Dimensional, Automatable and Integrated Bioprocess for the Differentiation of Embryonic Stem Cells into Pulmonary Alveolar Cells in a Rotating Vessel Bioreactor System
Application of stem cells for cell therapy of respiratory diseases is a developing field. We have previously established several protocols for the differentiation of embryonic stem cells (ESC) into alveolar epithelial cells, which require a high degree of operator interference and result in a low yield of target cells. Herein, we have shown that, by provision of a medium conditioned using A549 cells and by integration of classic steps of ESC differentiation into a single step through encapsulation in hydrogels (three-dimensional) and culture in a rotary bioreactor, murine ESC (mESC) could be directed to differentiate into distal respiratory epithelial cells. Type I and II pneumocytes (with a yield of 50% for type II) and Clara cells were demonstrated by the expression of aquaporin 5, surfactant protein C, and Clara cell secretory protein, respectively. We identified target cells as early as day 5 of culture and stably maintained our differentiated cells in vitro for 100 days. Electron microscopy demonstrated microvilli and intracellular lamellar bodies (LB), and fluorescent staining confirmed the active process of exocytosis of these LB in differentiated type II cells. When these cells were decapsulated and cultured in static conditions in flask cultures (two-dimensional), they retained their characteristic type II phenotype and morphology. In conclusion, our protocol offers integrated bioprocessing, shorter time of differentiation, lower cost, no use of growth factors, high reproducibility, and high phenotypic and functional stability, as well as being amenable to automation and being scalable, which would move this field closer to future clinical applications.
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Multipotent neural precursors can be cultured in suspension bioreactors as aggregates of stem cells and progenitor cells. However, it is important to limit the size of the aggregates, as necrotic centers may develop at very large diameters. Previously, we have shown that the hydrodynamics within a suspension bioreactor can be used to control the diameter of NSC aggregates (D-MAVO < 150 μm) below sizes where necrosis would be expected to occur. In the present study, power law correlations were developed for our bioreactors showing the dependence of the maximum mean aggregate diameter on both the kinematic viscosity of the medium and the power input per unit mass of medium, The power input was manipulated by changing the agitation rate (60-100 rpm), and the viscosity was manipulated through the addition of non-toxic levels of carboxymethylcellulose. The study also confirmed that the maximum liquid shear generated at the surface of the aggregates was sufficient to dislodge single cells, thus limiting the maximum diameter of the aggregates, without causing cell damage (τ(max) = 9.76 dyn/cm(2)). This is a first step in the development of a reproducible, scaled-up process for the production of neural stem cells for therapeutic applications including the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders and acute central nervous system injuries. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
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Male rats that were flown for 18.5 days on Cosmos-1129 were mated postflight with intact females. The mating 5 days postflight when the ejaculate consisted of spermatozoids that were exposed to zero-g effects in the mature stage yielded the litter which lagged behind the controls with respect to the growth and development during the first postnatal month. The mating 2.5-3 months postflight when the ejaculate consisted of spermatozoids that were exposed to zero-g effects at the stem cell stage yielded the litter which did not differ from the control.
Relation Between Motility, Accelerated Aging and Gene Expression in Selected Drosophila Strains under Hypergravity Conditions
Motility and aging in Drosophila have proven to be highly modified under altered gravity conditions (both in space and ground simulation facilities). In order to find out how closely connected they are, five strains with altered geotactic response or survival rates were selected and exposed to an altered gravity environment of 2g. By analysing the different motile and behavioural patterns and the median survival rates, we show that altered gravity leads to changes in motility, which will have a negative impact on the flies’ survival. Previous results show a differential gene expression between sessile samples and adults and confirm that environmentally-conditioned behavioural patterns constrain flies’ gene expression and life span. Therefore, hypergravity is considered an environmental stress factor and strains that do not respond to this new environment experience an increment in motility, which is the major cause for the observed increased mortality also under microgravity conditions. The neutral-geotaxis selected strain (strain M) showed the most severe phenotype, unable to respond to variations in the gravitational field. Alternatively, the opposite phenotype was observed in positive-geotaxis and long-life selected flies (strains B and L, respectively), suggesting that these populations are less sensitive to alterations in the gravitational load. We conclude that the behavioural response has a greater contribution to aging than the modified energy consumption in altered gravity environments.