Exposure of mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs) to microgravity inhibited their ability to differentiate and generate most cell lineages, needed for the development of bone, muscle, the immune system, and other organs and tissues, revealed a study performed on the NASA Space Shuttle Discovery. This inhibition of mESC differentiation could have significant implications for the field of human tissue engineering and the use of stem cells to regenerate adult tissues.
The study is published in Stem Cells and Development.
In the article 'Microgravity Reduces the Differentiation and Regenerative Potential of Embryonic Stem Cells', Elizabeth Blaber and coauthors from NASA Ames Research Center (Moffett Field, CA) and University of New South Wales (Sydney, Australia) report the effects of mechanical unloading on stem cells during a 15-day period of exposure to microgravity. The researchers studied the differentiation potential of the mESCs using the embryoid body (EB) model, which models the differentiation of ESCs into embryonic tissue. The researchers discuss the close similarities between the EB model and adult stem cell-based tissue regeneration and the significance of their findings for regeneration of adult mammalian tissues.