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Aviat Space Environ Med. 1998 Jun;69(6 Suppl):A2-8.

Comparison of hyper- and microgravity on rat muscle, organ weights and selected plasma constituents.

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  • 1Life Sciences Division, NASA-Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, USA.



Centrifugation has been proposed to be one possible countermeasure for the skeletal muscle, organ, hormonal, and plasma chemistry adaptations associated with chronic unloading (e.g., during spaceflight).


Our hypothesis was that there would be a continuum of physiological and morphological responses from zero gravity to hypergravity.


Adult male rats were centrifuged continuously at 2G for 14 d and the weights of limb muscles and organs, and the levels of plasma constituents were compared with the same measurements from rats flown on a 14-d spaceflight (Cosmos 2044).


Mean body weights of centrifuge rats did not change, whereas age-matched controls grew 21%. There was a sparing of muscle protein in the centrifuge rats; the absolute weights of predominantly slow muscles in the hindlimb were maintained and the relative weights (expressed relative to body weight and as a percent difference from control) of almost all muscles studied were larger than control. In contrast, spaceflight resulted in a decrease in the relative weights of most extensor, but not flexor, hindlimb muscles studied. Relative organ weights, in general, were elevated in centrifuge rats compared with control rats. Relative organ weights in flight rats were similar to control, except for a decrease in testes weight. Plasma thyroxine and testosterone levels were significantly reduced following flight, whereas only thyroxine was decreased after centrifugation. Centrifugation resulted in a decrease in most other plasma chemistry measurements, whereas flight rats showed no change or an elevation in these measures.


These data indicate that the physiological responses to micro- and hypergravity are often in the opposite direction, suggesting that in general there is a continuum of physiological and morphological effects from microgravity to 1G to hypergravity. These data further suggest that the imposition of hypergravity conditions on animals that are in a microgravity environment may have a beneficial effect in maintaining some physiological systems at or near control levels.

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