, Volume 229, Issue 2-4, pp 243-249

Cytoskeleton changes and impaired motility of monocytes at modelled low gravity

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Investigations performed in space have shown that gravity changes affect important cellular mechanisms like proliferation, differentiation, genetic expression, cytoskeletal architecture, and motility in lymphocytes, monocytes, and other mammalian cells. In particular, a dramatic depression of the mitogenic in vitro activation of human peripheral blood lymphocytes was observed at low gravity. The hypothesis of the present work is that a reduced interaction between T lymphocytes and monocytes, essential for the second signalling pathway, might be one of the reasons for the observed depression of the in vitro activation of human lymphocytes. Cell motility and with it a continuous rearrangement of the cytoskeletal network within the cell is essential for cell-to-cell contacts. Whereas nonactivated lymphocytes in suspension are highly motile at low gravity, no data are available so far on the motility of adherent monocytes. It thus can be argued that impaired monocyte locomotion and cytoskeletal changes could be responsible for a reduced interaction of monocytes with T lymphocytes. In this study, the locomotion ability of J-111 cells, an adherent monocyte cell line, attached to colloidal gold particles on coverslips and exposed to modelled low gravity in the random positioning machine was found to be severely reduced compared with that of controls and the structures of actin, tubulin, and vinculin were affected.

Correspondence and reprints: Space Biology Group, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Technopark, Technoparkstrasse 1, 8005 Zürich, Switzerland.