Skeletal adaptations in young male mice after 4 weeks aboard the International Space Station

Kevin A. Maupin, Paul Childress, Alexander Brinker, Faisal Khan, Irushi Abeysekera, Izath Nizeet Aguilar, David J. Olivos, Gremah Adam, Michael K. Savaglio, Venkateswaran Ganesh, Riley Gorden, Rachel Mannfeld, Elliott Beckner, Daniel J. Horan, Alexander G. Robling, Nabarun Chakraborty, Aarti Gautam, Rasha Hammamieh, Melissa A. Kacena

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


Gravity has an important role in both the development and maintenance of bone mass. This is most evident in the rapid and intense bone loss observed in both humans and animals exposed to extended periods of microgravity in spaceflight. Here, cohabitating 9-week-old male C57BL/6 mice resided in spaceflight for ~4 weeks. A skeletal survey of these mice was compared to both habitat matched ground controls to determine the effects of microgravity and baseline samples in order to determine the effects of skeletal maturation on the resulting phenotype. We hypothesized that weight-bearing bones would experience an accelerated loss of bone mass compared to non-weight-bearing bones, and that spaceflight would also inhibit skeletal maturation in male mice. As expected, spaceflight had major negative effects on trabecular bone mass of the following weight-bearing bones: femur, tibia, and vertebrae. Interestingly, as opposed to the bone loss traditionally characterized for most weight-bearing skeletal compartments, the effects of spaceflight on the ribs and sternum resembled a failure to accumulate bone mass. Our study further adds to the insight that gravity has site-specific influences on the skeleton.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number21
Journalnpj Microgravity
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Materials Science (miscellaneous)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science

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    Maupin, K. A., Childress, P., Brinker, A., Khan, F., Abeysekera, I., Aguilar, I. N., Olivos, D. J., Adam, G., Savaglio, M. K., Ganesh, V., Gorden, R., Mannfeld, R., Beckner, E., Horan, D. J., Robling, A. G., Chakraborty, N., Gautam, A., Hammamieh, R., & Kacena, M. A. (2019). Skeletal adaptations in young male mice after 4 weeks aboard the International Space Station. npj Microgravity, 5(1), [21].