Due to spaceflight, astronauts experience serious, weightlessness-induced bone loss because of an unbalanced process of bone remodeling that involves bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs), as well as osteoblasts, osteocytes, and osteoclasts. The effects of microgravity on osteo-cells have been extensively studied, but it is only recently that consideration has been given to the role of BMSCs. Previous researches indicated that human BMSCs cultured in simulated microgravity (sim-mu g) alter their proliferation and differentiation. The spaceflight opportunities for biomedical experiments are rare and suffer from a number of operative constraints that could bias the validity of the experiment itself, but remain a unique opportunity to confirm and explain the effects due to microgravity, that are only partially activated/detectable in simulated conditions. For this reason, we carefully prepared the SCD - STEM CELLS DIFFERENTIATION experiment, selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) and now on the International Space Station (ISS). Here we present the preparatory studies performed on ground to adapt the project to the spaceflight constraints in terms of culture conditions, fixation and storage of human BMSCs in space aiming at satisfying the biological requirements mandatory to retrieve suitable samples for post-flight analyses. We expect to understand better the molecular mechanisms governing human BMSC growth and differentiation hoping to outline new countermeasures against astronaut bone loss.
Versari, S., Barenghi, L., van Loon, J., & Bradamante, S. (2016). The SCD - Stem Cell Differentiation ESA Project: Preparatory Work for the Spaceflight Mission. Microgravity Science and Technology, 28, 19-28. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12217-015-9466-5