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Metab Bone Dis Relat Res. 1982;4(1):69-75.

Skeletal abnormalities in rats induced by simulated weightlessness.


A hypokinetic model has been developed which attempts to simulate the weightlessness experienced during space flight. Male rats (approximately 130 g) were suspended from the model with a head-down tilt for a two-week period. Total mechanical unloading of the hind limbs and partial unloading of the fore limbs occurred. In comparison to pair-fed control rats, the skeletal alterations in the proximal tibial and humeral metaphyses of suspended rats were determined to be a diminished rate of longitudinal bone growth, a reduced mass of mineralized tissue, and an accumulation of marrow fat. Also, suspended rats exhibited decreased numbers of osteoblasts and increased numbers of osteoclasts immediately adjacent to the growth plate-metaphyseal junction at both skeletal sites. Although the reduction in mineralized tissue and the fat accumulation were more marked in the tibia, the skeletal changes in the proximal tibial and humeral metaphyses were generally comparable. The observed abnormalities may be due to mechanical unloading and/or a hypersecretion of corticosteroids.

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