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Biol Open. 2012 Jun 15;1(6):570-81. doi: 10.1242/bio.2012687. Epub 2012 Apr 30.

Hypergravity disruption of homeorhetic adaptations to lactation in rat dams include changes in circadian clocks.

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Department of Animal Science, Purdue University , West Lafayette, IN 47907 , USA.


Altered gravity load induced by spaceflight (microgravity) and centrifugation (hypergravity) is associated with changes in circadian, metabolic, and reproductive systems. Exposure to 2-g hypergravity (HG) during pregnancy and lactation decreased rate of mammary metabolic activity and increased pup mortality. We hypothesize HG disrupted maternal homeorhetic responses to pregnancy and lactation are due to changes in maternal metabolism, hormone concentrations, and maternal behavior related to gravity induced alterations in circadian clocks. Effect of HG exposure on mammary, liver and adipose tissue metabolism, plasma hormones and maternal behavior were analyzed in rat dams from mid-pregnancy (Gestational day [G]11) through early lactation (Postnatal day [P]3); comparisons were made across five time-points: G20, G21, P0 (labor and delivery), P1 and P3. Blood, mammary, liver, and adipose tissue were collected for analyzing plasma hormones, glucose oxidation to CO(2) and incorporation into lipids, or gene expression. Maternal behavioral phenotyping was conducted using time-lapse videographic analyses. Dam and fetal-pup body mass were significantly reduced in HG in all age groups. HG did not affect labor and delivery; however, HG pups experienced a greater rate of mortality. PRL, corticosterone, and insulin levels and receptor genes were altered by HG. Mammary, liver and adipose tissue metabolism and expression of genes that regulate lipid metabolism were altered by HG exposure. Exposure to HG significantly changed expression of core clock genes in mammary and liver and circadian rhythms of maternal behavior. Gravity load alterations in dam's circadian system may have impacted homeorhetic adaptations needed for a successful lactation.


Circadian; Homeorhesis; Hypergravity; Lactation; Mammary; Pregnancy

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