Publications by authors named "Augusto Cogoli"

21 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Signal transduction in primary human T lymphocytes in altered gravity during parabolic flight and clinostat experiments.

Cell Physiol Biochem 2015 2;35(3):1034-51. Epub 2015 Feb 2.

Institute of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.

Background/aims: Several limiting factors for human health and performance in microgravity have been clearly identified arising from the immune system, and substantial research activities are required in order to provide the basic information for appropriate integrated risk management. The gravity-sensitive nature of cells of the immune system renders them an ideal biological model in search for general gravity-sensitive mechanisms and to understand how the architecture and function of human cells is related to the gravitational force and therefore adapted to life on Earth.

Methods: We investigated the influence of altered gravity in parabolic flight and 2D clinostat experiments on key proteins of activation and signaling in primary T lymphocytes. We quantified components of the signaling cascade 1.) in non-activated T lymphocytes to assess the "basal status" of the cascade and 2.) in the process of activation to assess the signal transduction.

Results: We found a rapid decrease of CD3 and IL-2R surface expression and reduced p-LAT after 20 seconds of altered gravity in non-activated primary T lymphocytes during parabolic flight. Furthermore, we observed decreased CD3 surface expression, reduced ZAP-70 abundance and increased histone H3-acetylation in activated T lymphocytes after 5 minutes of clinorotation and a transient downregulation of CD3 and stable downregulation of IL-2R during 60 minutes of clinorotation.

Conclusion: CD3 and IL-2R are downregulated in primary T lymphocytes in altered gravity. We assume that a gravity condition around 1g is required for the expression of key surface receptors and appropriate regulation of signal molecules in T lymphocytes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000373930DOI Listing
November 2015

Signal transduction in primary human T lymphocytes in altered gravity - results of the MASER-12 suborbital space flight mission.

Cell Commun Signal 2013 May 7;11(1):32. Epub 2013 May 7.

Institute of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, Zurich, CH-8057, Switzerland.

We investigated the influence of altered gravity on key proteins of T cell activation during the MASER-12 ballistic suborbital rocket mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Swedish Space Cooperation (SSC) at ESRANGE Space Center (Kiruna, Sweden). We quantified components of the T cell receptor, the membrane proximal signaling, MAPK-signaling, IL-2R, histone modifications and the cytoskeleton in non-activated and in ConA/CD28-activated primary human T lymphocytes. The hypergravity phase during the launch resulted in a downregulation of the IL-2 and CD3 receptor and reduction of tyrosine phosphorylation, p44/42-MAPK phosphorylation and histone H3 acetylation, whereas LAT phosphorylation was increased. Compared to the baseline situation at the point of entry into the microgravity phase, CD3 and IL-2 receptor expression at the surface of non-activated T cells were reduced after 6 min microgravity. Importantly, p44/42-MAPK-phosphorylation was also reduced after 6 min microgravity compared to the 1g ground controls, but also in direct comparison between the in-flight μg and the 1g group. In activated T cells, the reduced CD3 and IL-2 receptor expression at the baseline situation recovered significantly during in-flight 1g conditions, but not during microgravity conditions. Beta-tubulin increased significantly after onset of microgravity until the end of the microgravity phase, but not in the in-flight 1g condition. This study suggests that key proteins of T cell signal modules are not severely disturbed in microgravity. Instead, it can be supposed that the strong T cell inhibiting signal occurs downstream from membrane proximal signaling, such as at the transcriptional level as described recently. However, the MASER-12 experiment could identify signal molecules, which are sensitive to altered gravity, and indicates that gravity is obviously not only a requirement for transcriptional processes as described before, but also for specific phosphorylation / dephosphorylation of signal molecules and surface receptor dynamics.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1478-811X-11-32DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3653714PMC
May 2013

The Rel/NF-κB pathway and transcription of immediate early genes in T cell activation are inhibited by microgravity.

J Leukoc Biol 2012 Dec 2;92(6):1133-45. Epub 2012 Jul 2.

Department of Surgery, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA.

This study tested the hypothesis that transcription of immediate early genes is inhibited in T cells activated in μg. Immunosuppression during spaceflight is a major barrier to safe, long-term human space habitation and travel. The goals of these experiments were to prove that μg was the cause of impaired T cell activation during spaceflight, as well as understand the mechanisms controlling early T cell activation. T cells from four human donors were stimulated with Con A and anti-CD28 on board the ISS. An on-board centrifuge was used to generate a 1g simultaneous control to isolate the effects of μg from other variables of spaceflight. Microarray expression analysis after 1.5 h of activation demonstrated that μg- and 1g-activated T cells had distinct patterns of global gene expression and identified 47 genes that were significantly, differentially down-regulated in μg. Importantly, several key immediate early genes were inhibited in μg. In particular, transactivation of Rel/NF-κB, CREB, and SRF gene targets were down-regulated. Expression of cREL gene targets were significantly inhibited, and transcription of cREL itself was reduced significantly in μg and upon anti-CD3/anti-CD28 stimulation in simulated μg. Analysis of gene connectivity indicated that the TNF pathway is a major early downstream effector pathway inhibited in μg and may lead to ineffective proinflammatory host defenses against infectious pathogens during spaceflight. Results from these experiments indicate that μg was the causative factor for impaired T cell activation during spaceflight by inhibiting transactivation of key immediate early genes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1189/jlb.0312157DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3501893PMC
December 2012

Rapid alterations of cell cycle control proteins in human T lymphocytes in microgravity.

Cell Commun Signal 2012 Jan 24;10(1). Epub 2012 Jan 24.

Institute of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland.

In our study we aimed to identify rapidly reacting gravity-responsive mechanisms in mammalian cells in order to understand if and how altered gravity is translated into a cellular response. In a combination of experiments using "functional weightlessness" provided by 2D-clinostats and real microgravity provided by several parabolic flight campaigns and compared to in-flight-1g-controls, we identified rapid gravity-responsive reactions inside the cell cycle regulatory machinery of human T lymphocytes. In response to 2D clinorotation, we detected an enhanced expression of p21 Waf1/Cip1 protein within minutes, less cdc25C protein expression and enhanced Ser147-phosphorylation of cyclinB1 after CD3/CD28 stimulation. Additionally, during 2D clinorotation, Tyr-15-phosphorylation occurred later and was shorter than in the 1 g controls. In CD3/CD28-stimulated primary human T cells, mRNA expression of the cell cycle arrest protein p21 increased 4.1-fold after 20s real microgravity in primary CD4+ T cells and 2.9-fold in Jurkat T cells, compared to 1 g in-flight controls after CD3/CD28 stimulation. The histone acetyltransferase (HAT) inhibitor curcumin was able to abrogate microgravity-induced p21 mRNA expression, whereas expression was enhanced by a histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor. Therefore, we suppose that cell cycle progression in human T lymphocytes requires Earth gravity and that the disturbed expression of cell cycle regulatory proteins could contribute to the breakdown of the human immune system in space.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1478-811X-10-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3275513PMC
January 2012

Neocartilage formation in 1 g, simulated, and microgravity environments: implications for tissue engineering.

Tissue Eng Part A 2010 May;16(5):1729-36

Space Biology Institute, ETHZ, Zürich, Switzerland.

Aim: The aim of this study was to analyze and compare the deposition of cartilage-specific extracellular matrix components and cellular organization in scaffold-free neocartilage produced in microgravity and simulated microgravity.

Methods: Porcine chondrocytes were seeded (100 x 10(6)/mL) into cylindrical culture chambers (n = 8) and cultured in the following environments: (i) microgravity during the Flight 7S (Cervantes mission) on the International Space Station (ISS), (ii) simulated microgravity in a random positioning machine (RPM), and (iii) normal gravity (1 g, control). After 16 days, each neocartilage tissue was processed for histology, immunohistochemistry, quantitative real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction, and histomorphometric analysis.

Results: Weaker extracellular matrix staining of ISS neocartilage tissue was noted compared with both Earth-cultivated tissues. Higher collagen II/I expression ratios were observed in ISS samples compared with control tissue. Conversely, higher aggrecan/versican gene expression profiles were seen in control 1 g samples compared with microgravity samples. Cell density produced in microgravity was significantly reduced compared with the normal gravity neocartilage tissues.

Conclusion: Tissue cultivated on the RPM showed intermediate characteristics compared with ISS and 1 g conditions. These data indicate that the RPM system does not sustain microgravity. Although microgravity impacts the development of in vitro generated cartilage, simulated microgravity using the RPM may be a useful tool to produce cartilaginous tissue grafts with fewer cells.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/ten.tea.2008.0624DOI Listing
May 2010

Effects of basic fibroblast growth factor on endothelial cells under conditions of simulated microgravity.

J Cell Biochem 2008 Jul;104(4):1324-41

Institute of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, CBF/CCM, Center of Space Medicine, 14195 Berlin, Germany.

Fibroblast growth factors interact with appropriate endothelial cell (EC) surface receptors and initiate intracellular signal cascades, which participate in modulating blood vessel growth. EC, upon exposure to basic fibroblast growth factors (bFGFs) undergo profound functional alterations, which depend on their actual sensitivity and involve gene expression and de novo protein synthesis. We investigated the effects of bFGF on signaling pathways of EA.hy926 cells in different environments. EC were cultured under normal gravity (1 g) and simulated microgravity (micro g) using a three-dimensional (3D) clinostat. Microgravity induced early and late apoptosis, extracellular matrix proteins, endothelin-1 (ET-1) and TGF-beta(1) expression. Microgravity reduced eNOS mRNA within 24 h. Moreover, a six- to eightfold higher amount of IL-6 and IL-8 was secreted within 24 h micro g. In addition, microgravity induced a duplication of NF-kappaB p50, while p65 was quadrupled. At 1 g, bFGF application (4 h) reduced ET-1, TGF-beta(1) and eNOS gene expression. After 24 h, bFGF enhanced fibronectin, VEGF, Flk-1, Flt-1, the release of IL-6, IL-8, and TGF-beta(1). Furthermore, bFGF promoted apoptosis, reduced NFkB p50, but enhanced NFkB p65. After 4 h micro g, bFGF decreased TGF-beta(1), eNOS, and ET-1 gene expression. After 24 h micro g, bFGF elevated fibronectin, Flk-1 and Flt-1 protein, and reduced IL-6 and IL-8 compared with vehicle treated micro g cultures. In micro g, bFGF enhanced NF-KappaB p50 by 50%, Bax by 25% and attenuated p65, activation of caspase-3 and annexin V-positive cells. bFGF differently changes intracellular signals in ECs depending whether it is applied under microgravity or normal gravity conditions. In microgravity, bFGF contributes to protect the EC from apoptosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jcb.21710DOI Listing
July 2008

Modeled gravitational unloading induced downregulation of endothelin-1 in human endothelial cells.

J Cell Biochem 2007 Aug;101(6):1439-55

Department of Trauma and Reconstructive Surgery, Charité-University Medical School, Benjamin Franklin Medical Center, Center of Space Medicine, 12200 Berlin, Germany.

Many space missions have shown that prolonged space flights may increase the risk of cardiovascular problems. Using a three-dimensional clinostat, we investigated human endothelial EA.hy926 cells up to 10 days under conditions of simulated microgravity (microg) to distinguish transient from long-term effects of microg and 1g. Maximum expression of all selected genes occurred after 10 min of clinorotation. Gene expression (osteopontin, Fas, TGF-beta(1)) declined to slightly upregulated levels or rose again (caspase-3) after the fourth day of clinorotation. Caspase-3, Bax, and Bcl-2 protein content was enhanced for 10 days of microgravity. In addition, long-term accumulation of collagen type I and III and alterations of the cytoskeletal alpha- and beta-tubulins and F-actin were detectable. A significantly reduced release of soluble factors in simulated microgravity was measured for brain-derived neurotrophic factor, tissue factor, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and interestingly for endothelin-1, which is important in keeping cardiovascular balances. The gene expression of endothelin-1 was suppressed under microg conditions at days 7 and 10. Alterations of the vascular endothelium together with a decreased release of endothelin-1 may entail post-flight health hazards for astronauts.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jcb.21261DOI Listing
August 2007

Simulated weightlessness changes the cytoskeleton and extracellular matrix proteins in papillary thyroid carcinoma cells.

Cell Tissue Res 2006 May 24;324(2):267-77. Epub 2006 Jan 24.

Department of Trauma and Reconstructive Surgery, Charité University Medical School, Center of Space Medicine, Benjamin Franklin Medical Center, 12200, Berlin, Germany.

Studies of astronauts, experimental animals, and cells have shown that, after spaceflights, the function of the thyroid is altered by low-gravity conditions. The objective of this study was to investigate the cytoskeleton and extracellular matrix (ECM) protein synthesis of papillary thyroid cancer cells grown under zero g. We investigated alterations of ONCO-DG 1 cells exposed to simulated microgravity on a three-dimensional random-positioning machine (clinostat) for 30 min, 24 h, 48 h, 72 h, and 120 h (n=6, each group). ONCO-DG 1 cells grown under microgravity exhibited early alterations of the cytoskeleton and formed multicellular spheroids. The cytoskeleton was disintegrated, and nuclei showed morphological signs of apoptosis after 30 min. At this time, vimentin was increased. Vimentin and cytokeratin were highly disorganized, and microtubules (alpha-tubulin) did not display their typical radial array. After 48 h, the cytoskeletal changes were nearly reversed. The formation of multicellular spheroids continued. In parallel, the accumulation of ECM components, such as collagen types I and III, fibronectin, chondroitin sulfate, osteopontin, and CD44, increased. The levels of both transforming growth factor beta-1 (TGF-beta(1)) and TGF-beta receptor type II proteins were elevated from 24 h until 120 h clinorotation. Gene expression of TGF-beta(1) was clearly enhanced during culture under zero g. The amount of E-cadherin was enhanced time-dependently. We suggest that simulated weightlessness rapidly affects the cytoskeleton of papillary thyroid carcinoma cells and increases the amount of ECM proteins in a time-dependent manner.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00441-005-0142-8DOI Listing
May 2006

Modeled gravitational unloading triggers differentiation and apoptosis in preosteoclastic cells.

J Cell Biochem 2006 May;98(1):65-80

CEO--Center of Excellence in Optronics, L. Enrico Fermi 6, I-50125 Florence, Italy.

Gravity acts permanently on organisms as either static or dynamic stimulation. Understanding the influence of gravitational and mechanical stimuli on biological systems is an intriguing scientific problem. More than two decades of life science studies in low g, either real or modeled by clinostats, as well as experimentation with devices simulating different types of controlled mechanical stimuli, have shown that important biological functions are altered at the single cell level. Here, we show that the human leukemic line FLG 29.1, characterized as an osteoclastic precursor model, is directly sensitive to gravitational unloading, modeled by a random positioning machine (RPM). The phenotypic expression of cytoskeletal proteins, osteoclastic markers, and factors regulating apoptosis was investigated using histochemical and immunohistochemical methods, while the expression of the corresponding genes was analyzed using RT-PCR. A quantitative bone resorption assay was performed. Autofluorescence spectroscopy and imaging were applied to gain information on cell metabolism. The results show that modeled hypogravity may trigger both differentiation and apoptosis in FLG 29.1 cells. Indeed, when comparing RPM versus 1 x g cultures, in the former we found cytoskeletal alterations and a marked increase in apoptosis, but the surviving cells showed an osteoclastic-like morphology, overexpression of osteoclastic markers and the ability to resorb bone. In particular, the overexpression of both RANK and its ligand RANKL, maintained even after return to 1 x g conditions, is consistent with the firing of a differentiation process via a paracrine/autocrine mechanism.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jcb.20747DOI Listing
May 2006

Vascular endothelial growth factor inhibits programmed cell death of endothelial cells induced by clinorotation.

J Gravit Physiol 2004 Jul;11(2):P199-200

Department of Trauma and Reconstructive Surgery, Charité Unviersity Medicine Berlin, Germany.

The principal aim of this study was to investigate short- and long-term effects of clinorotation on human endothelial cells (EA hy 926 cell line) using a three-dimensional random positioning machine. Moreover, the impact of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) was addressed. Immediately, within one hour and after four and twenty-four hours an increase of apoptotic cells was detected. VEGF significantly inhibited the amount of apoptotic endothelial cells (EC). VEGF reduced the amount of fas-positive EC. Moreover, after 24 hours, proliferating EC grew in form of three-dimensional multicellular spheroids and also as monolayers. The initially formed spheroids (maximum diameter 3 mm) remained stable up to the 15th day of clinorotation. Some spheroids revealed tubular structures. In addition, a clear increase of extracellular matrix proteins such as osteopontin and fibronectin was measured. The three-dimensional clinostat represents an important tool for cell biological experiments. VEGF significantly attenuated the changes of endothelial cells induced by simulated weightlessness in a cell protective manner.
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July 2004

Longterm conditions of mimicked weightlessness influences the cytoskeleton in thyroid cells.

J Gravit Physiol 2004 Jul;11(2):P169-72

Department of Trauma and Reconstructive Surgery, Charité University Medicine, Berlin, Germany.

Weightlessness influences the human immune and hormone system, reduces bone mass, leads to muscle atrophy and cardiac atrophy. Effects on control mechanisms for proliferation, programmed cell death and differentiation are well documented. The principal aim of this study was to investigate changes of the cytoskeleton in thyroid cells cultured in vector-averaged gravity under clinostat rotation. After 12 hours the formation of multicellular spheroids started. An increase of extracellular matrix proteins and beta 1-integrin was observed. Laser scanning confocal microscopy of ML-1 follicular thyroid carcinoma cells and normal thyroid HTU-5 cells immunostained with anti-cytokeratin to demonstrate these intermediate filaments revealed that cytokeratin filaments extended from centers, were thickened, coalesced and shortened as compared to control cells. Moreover, vimentin was highly disorganized. The vimentin network formed a coiled aggregate closely associated with the nucleus. Western blot analyses of talin, alpha- and beta-tubulin showed a clear increase of these proteins in cells cultured under simulated 0 g. Our data suggest that the effects of microgravity on cultured human thyroid cells are accompanied by noticeable functional cellular changes. Future studies to clarify the pathway that regulate the observed integrin activation and the mechanisms by which they function have to be performed.
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July 2004

Strategies of cell biology experimentation in space.

Authors:
Augusto Cogoli

J Gravit Physiol 2004 Mar;11(1):111-6

Zero-g LifeTec GmbH, Zurich, Switzerland.

The purpose of this article is to inform newcomers on the most important aspects of experimentation with living cells and tissues in space laboratories and platforms. There are strong arguments that justify the efforts and investments in such activity. Experimentation in space is subject to safety and technological constraints that require considerable attention to the development of the flight protocols and of the flight instrumentation. Nevertheless to fly an experiment in space is a unique opportunity to study living systems under conditions not reproducible on Earth and it is also a contribution to human exploration of space. Thereby important progress in basic and applied science can be expected. Parallel investigations on ground with devices averaging the exposure to the gravity vector but not reproducing microgravity shall always be part of a space flight project.
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March 2004

Simulated hypogravity impairs the angiogenic response of endothelium by up-regulating apoptotic signals.

Biochem Biophys Res Commun 2005 Aug;334(2):491-9

Section of Pharmacology, Department of Molecular Biology and C.R.I.S.M.A., University of Siena, Siena, Italy.

Health hazards in astronauts are represented by cardiovascular problems and impaired bone healing. These disturbances are characterized by a common event, the loss of function by vascular endothelium, leading to impaired angiogenesis. We investigated whether the exposure of cultured endothelial cells to hypogravity condition could affect their behaviour in terms of functional activity, biochemical responses, morphology, and gene expression. Simulated hypogravity conditions for 72 h produced a reduction of cell number. Genomic analysis of endothelial cells exposed to hypogravity revealed that proapoptotic signals increased, while antiapoptotic and proliferation/survival genes were down-regulated by modelled low gravity. Activation of apoptosis was accompanied by morphological changes with mitochondrial disassembly and organelles/cytoplasmic NAD(P)H redistribution, as evidenced by autofluorescence analysis. In this condition cells were not able to respond to angiogenic stimuli in terms of migration and proliferation. Our study documents functional, morphological, and transcription alterations in vascular endothelium exposed to simulated low gravity conditions, thus providing insights on the occurrence of vascular tissue dysregulation in crewmen during prolonged space flights. Moreover, the alteration of vascular endothelium can intervene as a concause in other systemic effects, like bone remodelling, observed in weightlessness.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbrc.2005.06.124DOI Listing
August 2005

Early immune response and regulation of IL-2 receptor subunits.

Cell Signal 2005 Sep 25;17(9):1111-24. Epub 2005 Feb 25.

Northern California Institute for Research and Education, San Francisco, CA, United States.

Affymetrix oligonucleotide arrays were used to monitor expression of 8796 genes and probe sets in activated T-cells; analysis revealed that 217 genes were significantly upregulated within 4 h. Induced genes included transcription factors, cytokines and their receptor genes. Analysis by semi-quantitative RT-PCR confirmed the significant induction of IL-2, IL-2R(gamma) and IL-2R(alpha). Forty-eight of the 217 induced genes are known to or predicted to be regulated by a CRE promoter/enhancer. We found that T-cell activation caused a significant increase in CREB phosphorylation furthermore, inhibition of the PKC pathway by GF109203 reduced CREB activation by 50% and inhibition of the PKA pathway caused a total block of CREB phosphorylation and significantly reduced IFN(gamma), IL-2 and IL-2R(alpha) gene expression by approximately 40% (p<0.001). PKC(theta) plays a major role in T-cell activation: inhibition of PKC significantly reduced the expression of IFN(gamma), IL-2 and IL-2R(alpha). Since PKC blocked activation of CREB, we studied potential cross-talk between the PKC and the PKA/MAPK pathways, PMA-stimulated Jurkat cells were studied with specific signal pathway inhibitors. Extracellular signal-regulated kinase-2 (ERK2) pathway was found to be significantly activated greater than seven-fold within 30 min; however, there was little activation of ERK-1 and no activation of JNK or p38 MAPK. Inhibition of the PKA pathway, but not the PKC pathway, resulted in inhibition of ERK1/2 activation at all time points, inhibition of MEK1 and 2 significantly blocked expression of IL-2 and IL-2R(alpha). Gene expression of IL-2R(alpha) and IFN(gamma) was dependent on PKA in S49 wt cells but not in kin- mutants. Using gel shift analysis, we found that forskolin activation of T-cells resulted in activation of AP1 sites; this increase in nuclear extract AP1 was significantly blocked by MEK1 inhibitor U0126. Taken together, these results suggest that the PKA in addition to PKC and MAPK pathways plays a role in early T-cell activation and induction of IL-2, IL-2R(alpha) and IFN(gamma) gene expression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cellsig.2004.12.016DOI Listing
September 2005

Current topics on sample preservation. A report on the progress of the ESA Topical Team. Preservation of fixed and non-fixed samples during space experimentation.

J Gravit Physiol 2002 Jul;9(1):P371-2

Coordinator of the Topical Team, Centro de Investigaciones Biologicas (CSIC), Madrid, Spain.

The existence of preservation problems is one of the most important consequences of Space Biological Research. The Topical Team is critically analyzing the currently performed procedures and is establishing the bases for a recommendation on new procedures, capable of overcoming the present constraints.
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July 2002

Simulated microgravity induces programmed cell death in human thyroid carcinoma cells.

J Gravit Physiol 2002 Jul;9(1):P295-6

Institute of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, Benjamin Franklin Medical Center, Freie Universitat Berlin, Germany.

The present study focused on the effects of simulated microgravity on the human follicular thyroid carcinoma cell line ML-1. Cultured on a three-dimensional clinostat ML- 1 cells formed three-dimensional multicellular tumor spheroids (MCTS: 0.3 +/= 0.01mm in diameter). Furthermore, ML-1 cells grown on the clinostat showed elevated amounts of the apoptosis-associated Fas protein, of p53 and of bax, but reduced quantities of bcl-2. In addition, signs of apoptosis as assessed by TdT-mediated DUTP digoxigenin nick end labeling, DAPI staining, DNA laddering and 85-kDa apoptosis-related DNA fragments became detectable. The latter ones resulted from enhanced 116-kDa poly(ADP-ribose)polymerase activity. Electron microscopy revealed all morphological signs of apoptosis. Caspase 3 was clearly upregulated. In conclusion, our experiments show that conditions of simulated microgravity induce early programmed cell death and use different pathways of apoptosis.
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July 2002

Effects of simulated microgravity on thyroid carcinoma cells.

J Gravit Physiol 2002 Jul;9(1):P253-6

Institute of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, Benjamin Franklin Medical Center, Freie Universitat, Berlin, Germany.

We aimed to investigate whether simulated microgravity on thyroid carcinoma cells could help to perform in vitro cancer studies such as antitumor drug tests more reliable and to spare animal experiments. We cultured cancer cells at 0 g to enable formation of three-dimensional multicellular tumor spheroids (MCTS), which will resemble the originating tumors. Under microgravity human follicular cells (ML-1 cell line) keep floating with-out stirring so that initial cell-cell interactions required for spheroid formation will be induced by forces due to biochemical components actually expressed on surfaces of cells, whereas gravity related push- or shear events will not influence MCTS formation. Within 12 hours of clinorotation the monolayer turned spontaneously into MCTS with remarkable features: An increase of extracellular matrix proteins and TGF-beta 1. Thyroglobulin, ft3 and ft4 secretion were markedly reduced. These data are in agreement with the observation that astronauts show low thyroid hormone levels after spaceflight.
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July 2002

Space Biology Group: basic research, biotechnology, tissue engineering, and instrument development.

Chimia (Aarau) 2003 ;57(6):321-4

Space Biology Group, ETH Technopark, Zurich.

At the beginning of space flight, the investigations were oriented essentially toward the health of the astronauts. But in the last three decades space biology has evolved from "try-and-see" experiments to sophisticated basic and applied research with well-based hypotheses as well as studies on the use of low gravity in biological applications. In 1977 the Space Biology Group of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, began its activities in space research. A summary of the experiments performed to date, from basic research on the human immune system to the development of sophisticated instruments for biotechnology and medical application, is presented here.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2533/000942903777679145DOI Listing
February 2004

Weightlessness induced apoptosis in normal thyroid cells and papillary thyroid carcinoma cells via extrinsic and intrinsic pathways.

Endocrinology 2003 Sep;144(9):4172-9

Institute of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, Benjamin Franklin Medical Center, Freie Universität Berlin, 14195 Berlin, Germany.

Apoptosis plays a pivotal role in development, tissue homeostasis, cancer, immune defense, and response to weightlessness. It can be initiated by external signals via death receptors, but may also emerge from mitochondria. We exposed mitochondria-rich thyroid carcinoma cells (ONCO-DG1 cell line) and normal thyroid cells (HTU-5) to conditions of simulated microgravity. After 24 h, 10% of the cancer cells had entered a Fas-dependent apoptotic pathway, but destruction and redistribution of mitochondria, microtubuli disruption, and caspase-3 activation were also detected, demonstrating the activation of extrinsic as well as intrinsic pathways. Furthermore, ONCO-DG1 cells grown on the clinostat showed elevated amounts of Bax, but reduced quantities of bcl-2. In addition, signs of apoptosis became detectable, as assessed by terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP digoxigenin nick end labeling, 4',6-diamidino-2-phenylindole staining, and 85-kDa apoptosis-related cleavage fragments. These fragments resulted from enhanced 116-kDa poly(ADP-ribose)polymerase activity and apoptosis. Apoptosis was also detected in normal HTU-5 cells, as demonstrated by electron microscopy, activation of caspase-3, increases in Fas and Bax, and elevation of 85-kDa apoptosis-related cleavage fragments resulting from enhanced poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase activity. Gravitational unloading affects the mitochondria and thereby may trigger apoptosis in thyroid cells subjected to weightlessness by clinorotation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1210/en.2002-0171DOI Listing
September 2003

Creating conditions similar to those that occur during exposure of cells to microgravity induces apoptosis in human lymphocytes by 5-lipoxygenase-mediated mitochondrial uncoupling and cytochrome c release.

J Leukoc Biol 2003 Apr;73(4):472-81

Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Teramo, Italy.

Creating conditions similar to those that occur during exposure of cells to microgravity induced a sixfold increase of apoptotic bodies and DNA fragments in human lymphocytes, paralleled by an early (within 2 h) fourfold increase in 5-lipoxygenase (5-LOX) activity and a fivefold decrease in mitochondrial membrane potential and increase in cytochrome c release (within 4 and 8 h, respectively). Similar membrane potential and cytochrome c release were observed in isolated mitochondria treated with physiological amounts of 5-LOX and were enhanced by creating conditions similar to those that occur during exposure of cells to microgravity. 5-LOX inhibitors, 5,8,11,14-eicosatetraynoic acid and caffeic acid, completely prevented apoptosis, whereas the phospholipase A(2) inhibitor methyl-arachidonoyl fluorophosphonate and the 5-LOX activating protein inhibitor MK886 reduced it to 65-70%. The intracellular calcium chelator EGTA-acetoxymethylester reduced 5-LOX activity and apoptosis to 30-40% of controls, whereas the p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase inhibitor SB203580 was ineffective. The caspase-3 and caspase-9 inhibitors Z-Asp(OCH(3))-Glu(OCH(3))-Val-Asp(OCH(3))-fluoromethylketone (FMK) and Z-Leu-Glu(OCH(3))-His-Asp(OCH(3))-FMK reduced apoptotic bodies to 25-30% of the control cells. Finally, creating conditions similar to those that occur during exposure of cells to microgravity did not induce apoptosis in human lymphoma U937 cells, which did not express an active 5-LOX.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1189/jlb.0602295DOI Listing
April 2003

Simulated microgravity alters differentiation and increases apoptosis in human follicular thyroid carcinoma cells.

FASEB J 2002 Apr;16(6):604-6

Institute of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, Benjamin Franklin Medical Center, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany.

This study focuses on the effects of simulated microgravity (0g) on the human follicular thyroid carcinoma cell line ML-1. Cultured on a three-dimensional clinostat, ML-1 cells formed three-dimensional MCTSs (MCTS diameter: 0.3 +/- 0.01 mm). After 24 and 48 h of clinorotation, the cells significantly decreased fT3 and fT4 secretion but up-regulated the thyroid-stimulating hormone-receptor expression as well as the production of vimentin, vinculin, and extracellular matrix proteins (collagen I and III, laminin, fibronectin, chondroitin sulfate) compared with controls. Furthermore, ML-1 cells grown on the clinostat showed elevated amounts of the apoptosis-associated Fas protein, of p53, and of bax but showed reduced quantities of bcl-2. In addition, signs of apoptosis became detectable, as assessed by terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP digoxigenin nick end labeling, 4', 6-diamidino-2-phenylindole staining, DNA laddering, and 85-kDa apoptosis-related cleavage fragments. These fragments resulted from enhanced 116-kDa poly(ADP-ribose)polymerase (PARP) activity and apoptosis. These observations suggest that clinorotation elevates intermediate filaments, cell adhesion molecules, and extracellular matrix proteins and simultaneously induces apoptosis in follicular thyroid cancer cells. In conclusion, our experiments could provide a regulatory basis for the finding that astronauts show low thyroid hormone levels after space flight, which may be explained by the increase of apoptosis in thyrocytes as a result of simulated 0g.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1096/fj.01-0673fjeDOI Listing
April 2002