Neurobiological experiments on 4 animal species (Xenopus laevis, Pleurodeles waltl, Drosophila melanogaster, Acheta domesticus) were performed to study effects of microgravity on development and aging of neuronal, sensory and motor systems. Animal models were selected according to their suitability to answer questions concerning μg-effects on neuroanatomy, neuronal activity, and behaviour. The studies were performed on the Soyuz Taxi flights Andromède, Cervantes, Eneide and LDM-TMA8/TMA7. Observations from these flights include: (1) In tadpoles and cricket larvae, morphological features of sensory cells and neurons are rarely affected by microgravity. (2) In crickets, in-flight fertilization was successful; after landing, flight larvae hatched earlier than ground reared siblings. (3) In crickets, proliferation of peptidergic neurons and their projection patterns within the nervous system were not affected by microgravity. (4) During aging, the impact of microgravity on peptidergic neurons of male Drosophila was limited to the size of cell body. (5) In Xenopus, neurophysiological features of the spinal motor system during fictive swimming were partially modified. (6) In Xenopus tadpoles, the vestibuloocular reflex was affected in an age-related manner. Modifications were also related to the occurrence of a tail lordosis induced by microgravity. It is concluded that adaptation to microgravity during development and aging is mainly based on physiological mechanisms within the central nervous system while structural modifications of the sensory and neuronal system contribute less.
Research Containing: Pleurodeles waltl
Gravity changes during animal development affect IgM heavy-chain transcription and probably lymphopoiesis
Our previous research demonstrated that spaceflight conditions affect antibody production in response to an antigenic stimulation in adult amphibians. Here, we investigated whether antibody synthesis is affected when animal development occurs onboard a space station. To answer this question, embryos of the Iberian ribbed newt, Pleurodeles waltl, were sent to the International Space Station (ISS) before the initiation of immunoglobulin heavy-chain expression. Thus, antibody synthesis began in space. On landing, we determined the effects of spaceflight on P. waltl development and IgM heavy-chain transcription. Results were compared with those obtained using embryos that developed on Earth. We find that IgM heavy-chain transcription is doubled at landing and that spaceflight does not affect P. waltl development and does not induce inflammation. We also recreated the environmental modifications encountered by the embryos during their development onboard the ISS. This strategy allowed us to demonstrate that gravity change is the factor responsible for antibody heavy-chain transcription modifications that are associated with NF-kappaB mRNA level variations. Taken together, and given that the larvae were not immunized, these data suggest a modification of lymphopoiesis when gravity changes occur during ontogeny.