ISS Study Shows Hypergravity Counters Bone Loss in Mice

The International Space Station as it appears in 2018. Zarya is visible at the center of the complex, identifiable by its partially retracted solar arrays. (Credit: NASA)

Nature has a report about a Japanese study that showed 2G hypergravity causes increased bone and muscle growth in mice.

“We examined the influence of artificially produced 2G hypergravity on mice for bone and muscle mass with newly developed centrifuge device. We also analyzed the effects of microgravity (mostly 0G) and artificial produced 1G in ISS (international space station) on mouse bone mass,” according to the abstract.

“Experiment on the ground, the bone mass of humerus, femur and tibia was measured using micro-computed tomography (μCT), and the all bone mass was significantly increased in 2G compared with 1G control. In tibial bone, the mRNA expression of bone formation related genes such as Osx and Bmp2 was elevated,” the abstract added.

The abstract is below. Read the full story here.

Hypergravity and microgravity exhibited reversal effects on the bone and muscle mass in mice

Tsukasa Tominari, Ryota Ichimaru, Keita Taniguchi, Akane Yumoto, Masaki Shirakawa, Chiho Matsumoto, Kenta Watanabe, Michiko Hirata, Yoshifumi Itoh, Dai Shiba, Chisato Miyaura & Masaki Inada

Abstract

Spaceflight is known to induce severe systemic bone loss and muscle atrophy of astronauts due to the circumstances of microgravity. We examined the influence of artificially produced 2G hypergravity on mice for bone and muscle mass with newly developed centrifuge device. We also analyzed the effects of microgravity (mostly 0G) and artificial produced 1G in ISS (international space station) on mouse bone mass. Experiment on the ground, the bone mass of humerus, femur and tibia was measured using micro-computed tomography (μCT), and the all bone mass was significantly increased in 2G compared with 1G control. In tibial bone, the mRNA expression of bone formation related genes such as Osx and Bmp2 was elevated. The volume of triceps surae muscle was also increased in 2G compared with 1G control, and the mRNA expression of myogenic factors such as Myod and Myh1 was elevated by 2G. On the other hand, microgravity in ISS significantly induced the loss of bone mass on humerus and tibia, compared with artificial 1G induced by centrifugation. Here, we firstly report that bone and muscle mass are regulated by the gravity with loaded force in both of positive and negative on the ground and in the space.

  • Brainbit

    IMHO this shows gravity is the key to long durance space flight. Will we now get spinning space craft?

  • delphinus100

    So if they’re equipped to do this, how about fractional (specifically Lunar and Martian level) gravity?

  • Jeff Smith

    This effect has been known about for years. The Japanese discovered and developed this quite a while ago.

    https://dragonball.fandom.com/wiki/Hyperbolic_Time_Chamber

  • passinglurker

    Terrestrial healthcare masses less/s

    They’d probably resort to the teacup ride solution before ever building on the scale you’d need for a ferris wheel

  • TheBrett

    There’s also the Great Mambo Chicken, raised in IIRC 3 times Earth gravity.

  • TheBrett

    They need to do partial gravity tests next. We need to know how the effects of lower gravity change, whether there’s any kind of “threshold”.

  • redneck

    The question in my mind is, Is it possible that a short period of hypergravity per day enough to counteract the effects of microgravity on an extended mission? A very short radius centrifuge where they could have a computer work station at a standing desk for instance. Get work done while mitigating instead of spending hours per day in repetitive exercise. Or a hypergravity toilet.

    Keep the head in one orientation with restraints or training to avoid motion sickness and very high rpms can be tolerated which leads to very short radius on the centrifuge. A 10 meter diameter is a very different design problem than 500 meters..

  • Saturn1300

    This is to repair the damage. There are a lot of damage reported by 0G. Does it fix that also? Better to have 1G all the time and exercise or take a 20 minute walk everyday like I do. Unless certain muscles need to be strengthened like a body builder does. Mars has low gravity. So a couch potato like I would not have a problem with 1G to Mars for no damage to the bod. I should be able to carry that RTG a long ways out. Anything heavier, use a wheel barrow. A rover would be nice, like was used in Apollo. Everybody on Mars will be a Super Person. I use to be able to long jump 18′(pathetic, another jumper from another school was getting 23′, but over the board by 1″ it looked like to me. He later at another meet set the record.) So maybe 40-60 feet.

  • Jeff2Space

    Say lunar gravity and Mars gravity?

  • Saturn1300

    Need AG on ISS. I don’t see how OSHA will allow workers to be injured from 0G on ISS. Spin ISS and only visit center to do 0 G research. May get sick going back and forth though. Robots needed to do the work as much as possible. Or live in a spinner and come to ISS to work. Those poor workers. Coal miners have more protection.

  • duheagle

    I think a standing desk might be a problem in a short-radius centrifuge. Your head might be at fractional G while your legs were at 2G and your feet at 3G. That’s going to make you pass out.

  • redneck

    You have a point. A 5 meter diameter would act as you say.
    Had to look at a couple of numbers. A 10 meter diameter with 2 gee at the feet would have (depending on height) 1.6 gee at waist and 1.3 at head level.

    I did a blog post on this quite a number of years back and one of the comments linked to a study done with bed rest and intermittent high rpms. Apparently there were some positive findings though there was nothing about them working while spinning as I suggest

    To me, the problem is that investigation of fairly simple mitigation possibilities seems lagging. Considering the cost of placing people on the ISS, how much work could have been done in the last couple of decades if the exercise time could have been safely halved?

  • duheagle

    Yeah, I have no idea what the magic numbers are either and neither does anyone else, including NASA. It’s that last item that’s the real outrage and scandal here.

  • gunsandrockets

    Depends on what you mean by, “fairly simple mitigation possibilities”.

    Turning the ISS into a reeking gym was the fairly simple mitigation. The real problem is the failure of that mitigation.

    If anything, ISS experience has taught that there is no easy substitution for gravity. That gives us now two data points about gravity. Microgravity is unsustainably bad for long term human health, and one gravity is okay.

    What we need are more data points. What of 1/6 gravity? Or 1/3 gravity? That question might only begin to get answered when we have people living on the Moon as long as six months at a time.

  • redneck

    One failure is obvious to anyone that has ever had to meet payroll. For a crew of six, 84 man hours a week going to non-productive exercise in the gym based mitigation. How much is an hour of astronaut time worth on the station?

    Whether it’s 1/6, 1/3 or intermittent 1.7, it has not been investigated.That to me is a more glaring issue than even the 4,364 hours a year going to mandated exercise. It would be different if it was an optional activity chosen by the individual on their off time.

  • gunsandrockets

    This recent mouse study is just scratching the surface.

    Obviously a man sized centrifuge in LEO or long term stays on the Moon are very difficult and very expensive. But animal studies are much easier. So why so little effort in that direction? Where are the monkey studies?

    Why not a rhesus monkey gravity study, lasting two weeks or more, in a LEO centrifuge? Perhaps using a tethered Dragon Lab as the centrifuge?

  • newpapyrus

    We’re not sending humans to Mars in a healthy state unless we utilize rotating space habitats during most of the trip.

    That shouldn’t be too difficult if we separate and expand a simple rotating artificial gravity habitat from a LOX/LH2 orbital transfer vehicle after the initial trajectory burns. The artificial gravity habitat can stop rotating and contract its expandable booms and dock with the orbital transfer vehicle again just a few days before the vehicle is ready to go into orbit.

    And once in orbit, the rotating habitat can serve as an artificial gravity space station while circling Mars.

    Marcel