TitleSpaceflight-induced vertebral bone loss in ovariectomized rats is associated with increased bone marrow adiposity and no change in bone formation.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsKeune, JA, Philbrick, KA, Branscum, AJ, Iwaniec, UT, Turner, RT
JournalNPJ Microgravity
Date Published04/2016

There is often a reciprocal relationship between bone marrow adipocytes and osteoblasts, suggesting that marrow adipose tissue (MAT) antagonizes osteoblast differentiation. MAT is increased in rodents during spaceflight but a causal relationship between MAT and bone loss remains unclear. In the present study, we evaluated the effects of a 14-day spaceflight on bone mass, bone resorption, bone formation, and MAT in lumbar vertebrae of ovariectomized (OVX) rats. Twelve-week-old OVX Fischer 344 rats were randomly assigned to a ground control or flight group. Following flight, histological sections of the second lumbar vertebrae (=11/group) were stained using a technique that allowed simultaneous quantification of cells and preflight fluorochrome label. Compared with ground controls, rats flown in space had 32% lower cancellous bone area and 306% higher MAT. The increased adiposity was due to an increase in adipocyte number (224%) and size (26%). Mineral apposition rate and osteoblast turnover were unchanged during spaceflight. In contrast, resorption of a preflight fluorochrome and osteoclast-lined bone perimeter were increased (16% and 229%, respectively). The present findings indicate that cancellous bone loss in rat lumbar vertebrae during spaceflight is accompanied by increased bone resorption and MAT but no change in bone formation. These findings do not support the hypothesis that increased MAT during spaceflight reduces osteoblast activity or lifespan. However, in the context of ovarian hormone deficiency, bone formation during spaceflight was insufficient to balance increased resorption, indicating defective coupling. The results are therefore consistent with the hypothesis that during spaceflight mesenchymal stem cells are diverted to adipocytes at the expense of forming osteoblasts.

Alternate JournalNPJ Microgravity
PubMed ID28725730
PubMed Central IDPMC5515514