Effects of spaceflight on the murine mandible: Possible factors mediating skeletal changes in non-weight bearing bones of the head

Payal Ghosh, John N. Stabley, Bradley J. Behnke, Matthew R. Allen, Michael D. Delp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations


Spaceflight-induced remodeling of the skull is characterized by greater bone volume, mineral density, and mineral content. To further investigate the effects of spaceflight on other non-weight bearing bones of the head, as well as to gain insight into potential factors mediating the remodeling of the skull, the purpose of the present study was to determine the effects of spaceflight on mandibular bone properties. Female C57BL/6 mice were flown 15. d on the STS-131 Space Shuttle mission (n = 8) and 13. d on the STS-135 mission (n = 5) or remained as ground controls (GC). Upon landing, mandibles were collected and analyzed via micro-computed tomography for tissue mineralization, bone volume (BV/TV), and distance from the cemento-enamel junction to the alveolar crest (CEJ-AC). Mandibular mineralization was not different between spaceflight (SF) and GC mice for either the STS-131 or STS-135 missions. Mandibular BV/TV (combined cortical and trabecular bone) was lower in mandibles from SF mice on the STS-131 mission (80.7. ±. 0.8%) relative to that of GC (n = 8) animals (84.2. ±. 1.2%), whereas BV/TV from STS-135 mice was not different from GC animals (n = 7). The CEJ-AC distance was shorter in mandibles from STS-131 mice (0.217. ±. 0.004. mm) compared to GC animals (0.283. ±. 0.009. mm), indicating an anabolic (or anti-catabolic) effect of spaceflight, while CEJ-AC distance was similar between STS-135 and GC mice. These findings demonstrate that mandibular bones undergo skeletal changes during spaceflight and are susceptible to the effects of weightlessness. However, adaptation of the mandible to spaceflight is dissimilar to that of the cranium, at least in terms of changes in BV/TV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)156-161
Number of pages6
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016



  • Adaptation
  • Bone
  • Microgravity
  • Space

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Histology

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