Creating an In Vitro Protocol to Analyze the Effects of Microgravity on Chondrocyte Metabolism: A Pilot Study
The effects of spaceflight on astronaut health have been of great importance for human space flight, and long-term space flight will require a better understanding of the physiological effect microgravity has on the human body. Limited research has been performed analyzing the effect of microgravity on articular cartilage (AC). AC is necessary for proper functioning of joints by providing smooth, almost frictionless surface for the joint to move on, and to cushion some loading the joint experiences. Due to altered loading of joints within a microgravity environment, injury and illness within joints may occur. Osteoarthritis (OA) is a debilitating, painful joint disease that is though to be caused by altered loading of joints. Therefore, joints within a microgravity environment, may develop OA-like symptoms and illnesses. In order to investigate the effect of microgravity on articular cartilage, encapsulated chondrocytes were subjected to 4-days of microgravity exposure. Global metabolomics of metabolite extractions from the encapsulated chondrocytes, and metabolite secretions from the chondrocytes were analyzed to study the effects of microgravity on chondrocyte metabolism.