Modeled microgravity inhibits osteogenic differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cells and increases adipogenesis

Academic Article


  • Space flight-induced bone loss lias been attributed to a decrease in osteoblast function, without a significant change in bone resorption. To determine the effect of microgravity (MG) on bone, we used the Rotary Cell Culture System [developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)] to model MG. Cultured mouse calvariae demonstrated a 3-fold decrease in alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity and failed to mineralize after 7 d of MG. ALP and osteocalcin gene expression were also decreased. To determine the effects of MG on osteoblastogenesis, we cultured human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSC) on plastic microcarriers, and osteogenic differentiation was induced immediately before the initiation of modeled MG. A marked suppression of hMSC differentiation into osteoblasts was observed because the cells failed to express ALP, collagen 1, and osteonectin. The expression of runt-related transcription factor 2 was also inhibited. Interestingly, we found that peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ2), which is known to be important for adipocyte differentiation, adipsin, leptin, and glucose transporter-4 are highly expressed in response to MG. These changes were not corrected after 35 d of readaptation to normal gravity. In addition, MG decreased ERK- and increased p38-phosphorylation. These pathways are known to regulate the activity of runt-related transcription factor 2 and PPARγ2, respectively. Taken together, our findings indicate that modeled MG inhibits the osteoblastic differentiation of hMSC and induces the development of an adipocytic lineage phenotype. This work will increase understanding and aid in the prevention of bone loss, not only in MG but also potentially in age-and disuse-related osteoporosis.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Zayzafoon M; Gathings WE; McDonald JM
  • Start Page

  • 2421
  • End Page

  • 2432
  • Volume

  • 145
  • Issue

  • 5