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J Gravit Physiol. 2002 Jul;9(1):P257-60.

The role of signaling pathways in osteoblast gravity perception.

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  • 1Lab of Cell Growth, Department of Veteran's Affairs Medical Center and University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94121, USA. lab site:


Bone loss is one of the major problems in long term spaceflight. This physiological consequence of microgravity is the rapid loss of weightbearing bone that is associated with skeletal unloading. Moreover, we have previously noted that sera deprived osteoblasts do not have a normal response to sera in microgravity. Where exercise (mechanical loading) has been shown to increase bone formation and stimulate osteoblastic function, the mechanisms underlying signal transduction of mechano-perception is yet to be fully understood. Osteoblasts have been shown to respond to mechanical stress such as fluid shear, bending, flexing and compression. The type of stress and amount of stress determine the osteoblast response Recently we have discovered that the isolated osteoblast responds to a very short pulse of g-force compression. The possible regulatory sensors include mechano-sensitive calcium channels, autrocrine responses to stress, response to FAK/integrin, alterations in the cytoskeleton as well as other known growth factor and cytokine receptors. The secondary signal may include growth factor related kinases such as ERK, p38 and JNK map kinase (MAPK) pathways. Experimental evidence suggests that normal osteoblast response to stress and sera requires normal earth gravity.

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