Author(s): Nabavi N, Khandani A, Camirand A, Harrison RE
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Abstract Exposure to microgravity has been associated with several physiological changes in astronauts, including an osteoporosis-like loss in bone mass. Despite many in vivo and in vitro studies in both microgravity and simulated microgravity conditions, the mechanism for bone loss is still not clear. The lack of weight-bearing forces makes microgravity an ideal physical stimulus to assess bone cell responses. In this work, we conduct a unique investigation of the effects of microgravity on bone-producing osteoblasts and, in parallel, on bone-resorbing osteoclasts. An increase in total number of discrete resorption pits is observed in osteoclasts that experienced microgravity versus ground controls. We further show that osteoblasts exposed to 5 days of microgravity have shorter and wavier microtubules (MTs), smaller and fewer focal adhesions, and thinner cortical actin and stress fibers. Space-flown osteoblasts present extended cell shapes as well as significantly more disrupted and often fragmented or condensed nuclei. The absence of gravitational forces therefore causes both an increase in bone resorption by osteoclasts, and a decrease in osteoblast cellular integrity. The observed effects on both major bone cell types likely accelerate bone loss in microgravity environments, and additionally offer a potential explanation to the development of disuse osteoporosis on Earth. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
This article was published in Bone
and referenced in Journal of Stem Cell Research & Therapy