Author(s): Riley DA, Ellis S, Giometti CS, Hoh JF, IlyinaKakueva EI,
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Abstract Spaceflight (flight) and tail suspension-hindlimb unloading (unloaded) produced significant decreases in fiber cross-sectional areas of the adductor longus (AL), a slow-twitch antigravity muscle. However, the mean wet weight of the flight AL muscles was near normal, whereas that of the suspension unloaded AL muscles was significantly reduced. Interstitial edema within the flight AL, but not in the unloaded AL, appeared to account for this apparent disagreement. In both experimental conditions, the slow-twitch oxidative fibers atrophied more than the fast-twitch oxidative-glycolytic and fast-twitch glycolytic fibers. Immunostaining showed that slow-twitch oxidative fibers expressed fast myosin, producing hybrid fibers containing slow and fast myosin isoforms. Two-dimensional gel electrophoresis of flight AL muscles revealed increased content of fast myosin light chains and decreased amounts of slow myosin light chains and fatty acid-binding protein. In the flight AL, absolute mitochondrial content decreased, but the relatively greater breakdown of myofibrillar proteins maintained mitochondrial concentration near normal in the central intermyofibrillar regions of fibers. Subsarcolemmal mitochondria were preferentially lost and reduced below normal concentration. Elevated fiber immunostaining for ubiquitin conjugates was suggestive of ubiquitin-mediated breakdown of myofibrillar proteins. On return to weight bearing for 8-11 h, the weakened atrophic muscles exhibited eccentric contraction-like lesions (hyperextension of sarcomeres with A-band filaments pulled apart and fragmented), tearing of the supporting connective tissue, and thrombosis of the microcirculation. Segmental necrosis of muscle fibers, denervation of neuromuscular junctions, and extravasation of red blood cells were minimal. Lymphocyte antibody markers did not indicate a significant immune reaction. The flight AL exhibited threefold more eccentric-like lesions than the unloaded AL; the high reentry G forces experienced by the flight animals, but not the unloaded group, possibly accounted for this difference. Muscle atrophy appears to increase the susceptibility to form eccentric contraction-like lesions after reloading; this may reflect weakening of the myofibrils and extracellular matrix. Microcirculation was also compromised by spaceflight, such that there was increased formation of thrombi in the post-capillary venules and capillaries. This blockage led to edema by 8-11 h after resumption of weight bearing by the COSMOS 2044 rats. The present findings indicate that defective microcirculation most likely accounted for the extensive tissue necrosis and microhemorrhages observed for COSMOS 1887 rats killed 2 days after landing.
This article was published in J Appl Physiol (1985)
and referenced in Journal of Bioanalysis & Biomedicine