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Special Issue "Microgravity and Space Medicine 2.0"

A special issue of International Journal of Molecular Sciences (ISSN 1422-0067). This special issue belongs to the section "Molecular Biology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2021.

Special Issue Editor

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This is the second volume of the Special Issue "Microgravity and Space Medicine". In the near future, humans will return to the Moon and start expeditions to Mars and to other planets. In addition, there will be an increase in space tourism, which will lead to a high number of manned spaceflights. A long-term stay in space can influence the health of space travelers and can result in various health problems.

This Special Issue focuses on the impact of altered gravity conditions on mammalian cells, animals, and humans during spaceflights. It addresses the impact of cosmic radiation, available countermeasures, and possible applications on Earth.

The Special Issue will also publish studies investigating the impact of real and simulated microgravity on human and animal cells as well as on microorganisms. A special focus lies on projects in the field of cancer research and tissue engineering. Ground-based facilities available to simulate microgravity on Earth can be used for studying changes in various cell types.

Articles and reviews will be published that examine either the molecular biological background of external signals in cancer and other diseases or the cellular mechanisms responsible for the manifold changes occurring in cells and animals when exposed to microgravity. In addition, manuscripts reporting on experiments utilizing microgravity for tissue engineering purposes and on the bioprinting of tissues used in microgravity applications will be accepted for publication.

Prof. Dr. Daniela Grimm
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Molecular Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. There is an Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal. For details about the APC please see here. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • space flight
  • rocket flight
  • parabolic flight mission
  • cancer research
  • animals
  • cells
  • humans
  • tissue engineering
  • immune system
  • microgravity-related health problems
  • cosmic radiation

Related Special Issue

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

Article
Changes in Exosomal miRNA Composition in Thyroid Cancer Cells after Prolonged Exposure to Real Microgravity in Space
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(23), 12841; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms222312841 - 27 Nov 2021
Viewed by 199
Abstract
As much as space travel and exploration have been a goal since humankind looked up to the stars, the challenges coming with it are manifold and difficult to overcome. Therefore, researching the changes the human organism undergoes following exposure to weightlessness, on a [...] Read more.
As much as space travel and exploration have been a goal since humankind looked up to the stars, the challenges coming with it are manifold and difficult to overcome. Therefore, researching the changes the human organism undergoes following exposure to weightlessness, on a cellular or a physiological level, is imperative to reach the goal of exploring space and new planets. Building on the results of our CellBox-1 experiment, where thyroid cancer cells were flown to the International Space Station, we are now taking advantage of the newest technological opportunities to gain more insight into the changes in cell–cell communication of these cells. Analyzing the exosomal microRNA composition after several days of microgravity might elucidate some of the proteomic changes we have reported earlier. An array scan of a total of 754 miRNA targets revealed more than 100 differentially expressed miRNAs in our samples, many of which have been implicated in thyroid disease in other studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microgravity and Space Medicine 2.0)
Article
Fibroblast Differentiation and Matrix Remodeling Impaired under Simulated Microgravity in 3D Cell Culture Model
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(21), 11911; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms222111911 - 02 Nov 2021
Viewed by 737
Abstract
Exposure to microgravity affects astronauts’ health in adverse ways. However, less is known about the extent to which fibroblast differentiation during the wound healing process is affected by the lack of gravity. One of the key steps of this process is the differentiation [...] Read more.
Exposure to microgravity affects astronauts’ health in adverse ways. However, less is known about the extent to which fibroblast differentiation during the wound healing process is affected by the lack of gravity. One of the key steps of this process is the differentiation of fibroblasts into myofibroblasts, which contribute functionally through extracellular matrix production and remodeling. In this work, we utilized collagen-based three-dimensional (3D) matrices to mimic interstitial tissue and studied fibroblast differentiation under simulated microgravity (sµG). Our results demonstrated that alpha-smooth muscle actin (αSMA) expression and translocation of Smad2/3 into the cell nucleus were reduced upon exposure to sµG compared to the 1g control, which suggests the impairment of fibroblast differentiation under sµG. Moreover, matrix remodeling and production were decreased under sµG, which is in line with the impaired fibroblast differentiation. We further investigated changes on a transcriptomic level using RNA sequencing. The results demonstrated that sµG has less effect on fibroblast transcriptomes, while sµG triggers changes in the transcriptome of myofibroblasts. Several genes and biological pathways found through transcriptome analysis have previously been reported to impair fibroblast differentiation. Overall, our data indicated that fibroblast differentiation, as well as matrix production and remodeling, are impaired in 3D culture under sµG conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microgravity and Space Medicine 2.0)
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Article
Agrobacterium tumefaciens-Mediated Nuclear Transformation of a Biotechnologically Important Microalga—Euglena gracilis
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(12), 6299; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms22126299 - 11 Jun 2021
Viewed by 1167
Abstract
Euglena gracilis (E. gracilis) is an attractive organism due to its evolutionary history and substantial potential to produce biochemicals of commercial importance. This study describes the establishment of an optimized protocol for the genetic transformation of E. gracilis mediated by Agrobacterium [...] Read more.
Euglena gracilis (E. gracilis) is an attractive organism due to its evolutionary history and substantial potential to produce biochemicals of commercial importance. This study describes the establishment of an optimized protocol for the genetic transformation of E. gracilis mediated by Agrobacterium (A. tumefaciens). E. gracilis was found to be highly sensitive to hygromycin and zeocin, thus offering a set of resistance marker genes for the selection of transformants. A. tumefaciens-mediated transformation (ATMT) yielded hygromycin-resistant cells. However, hygromycin-resistant cells hosting the gus gene (encoding β-glucuronidase (GUS)) were found to be GUS-negative, indicating that the gus gene had explicitly been silenced. To circumvent transgene silencing, GUS was expressed from the nuclear genome as transcriptional fusions with the hygromycin resistance gene (hptII) (encoding hygromycin phosphotransferase II) with the foot and mouth disease virus (FMDV)-derived 2A self-cleaving sequence placed between the coding sequences. ATMT of Euglena with the hptII-2A–gus gene yielded hygromycin-resistant, GUS-positive cells. The transformation was verified by PCR amplification of the T-DNA region genes, determination of GUS activity, and indirect immunofluorescence assays. Cocultivation factors optimization revealed that a higher number of transformants was obtained when A. tumefaciens LBA4404 (A600 = 1.0) and E. gracilis (A750 = 2.0) cultures were cocultured for 48 h at 19 °C in an organic medium (pH 6.5) containing 50 µM acetosyringone. Transformation efficiency of 8.26 ± 4.9% was achieved under the optimized cocultivation parameters. The molecular toolkits and method presented here can be used to bioengineer E. gracilis for producing high-value products and fundamental studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microgravity and Space Medicine 2.0)
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Article
Simulated Microgravity Remodels Extracellular Matrix of Osteocommitted Mesenchymal Stromal Cells
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(11), 5428; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms22115428 - 21 May 2021
Viewed by 561
Abstract
The extracellular matrix (ECM) is the principal structure of bone tissue. Long-term spaceflights lead to osteopenia, which may be a result of the changes in composition as well as remodeling of the ECM by osteogenic cells. To elucidate the cellular effects of microgravity, [...] Read more.
The extracellular matrix (ECM) is the principal structure of bone tissue. Long-term spaceflights lead to osteopenia, which may be a result of the changes in composition as well as remodeling of the ECM by osteogenic cells. To elucidate the cellular effects of microgravity, human mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) and their osteocommitted progeny were exposed to simulated microgravity (SMG) for 10 days using random positioning machine (RPM). After RPM exposure, an imbalance of MSC collagen/non-collagen ratio at the expense of a decreased level of collagenous proteins was detected. At the same time, the secretion of proteases (cathepsin A, cathepsin D, MMP3) was increased. No significant effects of SMG on the expression of stromal markers and cell adhesion molecules on the MSC surface were noted. Upregulation of COL11A1, CTNND1, TIMP3, and TNC and downregulation of HAS1, ITGA3, ITGB1, LAMA3, MMP1, and MMP11 were detected in RPM exposed MSCs. ECM-associated transcriptomic changes were more pronounced in osteocommitted progeny. Thus, 10 days of SMG provokes a decrease in the collagenous components of ECM, probably due to the decrease in collagen synthesis and activation of proteases. The presented data demonstrate that ECM-associated molecules of both native and osteocommitted MSCs may be involved in bone matrix reorganization during spaceflight. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microgravity and Space Medicine 2.0)
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Article
Hypergravity Load Modulates Acetaminophen Nephrotoxicity via Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress in Association with Hepatic microRNA-122 Expression
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(9), 4901; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms22094901 - 05 May 2021
Viewed by 758
Abstract
Hypergravity conditions may subject the kidney to intrinsic stress and lead to hemodynamic kidney dysfunction. However, the mechanisms underlying this phenomenon remain unclear. Accumulation of unfolded proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum (i.e., ER stress) is often observed in kidney diseases. Therefore, this study [...] Read more.
Hypergravity conditions may subject the kidney to intrinsic stress and lead to hemodynamic kidney dysfunction. However, the mechanisms underlying this phenomenon remain unclear. Accumulation of unfolded proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum (i.e., ER stress) is often observed in kidney diseases. Therefore, this study investigated whether hypergravity stress alters acetaminophen-induced renal toxicity in vivo, as well as the molecular mechanisms involved in this process. C57BL/6 mice were submitted to one or three loads of +9 Gx hypergravity for 1 h with or without acetaminophen (APAP) treatment. The protein levels of cell survival markers, including pAKT and pCREB, were decreased in the kidney after acetaminophen treatment with a single hypergravity load. Additionally, the combined treatment increased kidney injury markers, serum creatinine, and Bax, Bcl2, and Kim-1 transcript levels and enhanced ER stress-related markers were further. Moreover, multiple hypergravity loads enabled mice to overcome kidney injury, as indicated by decreases in serum creatinine content and ER stress marker levels, along with increased cell viability indices. Similarly, multiple hypergravity loads plus APAP elevated miR-122 levels in the kidney, which likely originated from the liver, as the levels of primary miR-122 increased only in the liver and not the kidney. Importantly, this phenomenon may contribute to overcoming hypergravity-induced kidney injury. Taken together, our results demonstrate that APAP-exposed mice submitted to a single load of hypergravity exhibited more pronounced kidney dysfunction due to increased ER stress, which may be overcome by repetitive hypergravity loads presumably due to increased production of miR-122 in the liver. Thus, our study provides novel insights into the mechanisms by which hypergravity stress plus APAP medication induce kidney injury, which may be overcome by repeated hypergravity exposure. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microgravity and Space Medicine 2.0)
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