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Musculoskeletal Response to a Partial-gravity Analog in Rats: Structural, Functional, and Molecular Alterations (NNX16AL36G)
Principal Investigator
Research Area:
Biomedical countermeasures
Species Studied
Scientific Name: Rattus norvegicus Species: Rat

Health of the musculoskeletal system depends on exposure to mechanical loading. Removal or reduction of mechanical loading precipitates muscle atrophy and bone loss. Thus, despite rigorous exercise protocols and other countermeasures, muscle atrophy and bone loss are still virtually inevitable consequences of spaceflight. One approach for ameliorating the development of these untoward consequences of space travel is by the induction of artificial gravity during spaceflight via centrifugation. The strength of the artificial gravity depends both on the speed of rotation and diameter of the ship. While it is possible to achieve centrifugal force equivalent 1.0 G, it is also possible that lower levels of force may also be effective for preventing muscle atrophy and irreversible bone loss. In this study, we propose to evaluate the potential effectiveness of artificial gravity for the prevention of muscle atrophy and weakness and bone loss by studying rats using an innovative system for partial unloading that has been developed previously for mice by members of our team.

This work will also allow us to more effectively understand the relationship between the development of muscle atrophy and weakness and bone deterioration at varying levels of artificial gravity. At the conclusion of this study, we will have defined the potential impact of partial artificial gravity for prevention of musculoskeletal dysfunction and deterioration. This work will inform the future application of artificial gravity in human research and space exploration.

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Mortreux M, Nagy JA, Ko FC, Bouxsein ML, Rutkove SB. A novel partial gravity ground-based analogue for rats via quadrupedal unloading. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2018 Mar 22. [DOI]

Ko FC, Li J, Brooks DJ, Rutkove SB, Bouxsein ML. Structural and functional properties of bone are compromised in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis mice. Amyotroph Lateral Scler Frontotemporal Degener. 2018 Mar 23. [DOI]

Histological Techniques

Gastrocnemius muscle weight
Gastrocnemius-Electrical impedance measurements
Muscle weight
Soleus muscle
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Mission/Study Information
Mission Launch/Start Date Landing/End Date Duration
Ground 05/01/2009 In Progress

Additional Information
Managing NASA Center
Ames Research Center (ARC)
Responsible NASA Representative
Ames Research Center LSDA Level 3
Project Manager: Helen Stewart
Institutional Support
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Proposal Date
Proposal Source
2015-16 HERO NNJ15ZSA001N