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      Influence of Social Isolation During Prolonged Simulated Weightlessness by Hindlimb Unloading

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          The hindlimb unloading (HU) model has been used extensively to simulate the cephalad fluid shift and musculoskeletal disuse observed in spaceflight with its application expanding to study immune, cardiovascular and central nervous system responses, among others. Most HU studies are performed with singly housed animals, although social isolation also can substantially impact behavior and physiology, and therefore may confound HU experimental results. Other HU variants that allow for paired housing have been developed although no systematic assessment has been made to understand the effects of social isolation on HU outcomes. Hence, we aimed to determine the contribution of social isolation to tissue responses to HU. To accomplish this, we developed a refinement to the traditional NASA Ames single housing HU system to accommodate social housing in pairs, retaining desirable features of the original design. We conducted a 30-day HU experiment with adult, female mice that were either singly or socially housed. HU animals in both single and social housing displayed expected musculoskeletal deficits versus housing matched, normally loaded (NL) controls. However, select immune and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis responses were differentially impacted by the HU social environment relative to matched NL controls. HU led to a reduction in % CD4 + T cells in singly housed, but not in socially housed mice. Unexpectedly, HU increased adrenal gland mass in socially housed but not singly housed mice, while social isolation increased adrenal gland mass in NL controls. HU also led to elevated plasma corticosterone levels at day 30 in both singly and socially housed mice. Thus, musculoskeletal responses to simulated weightlessness are similar regardless of social environment with a few differences in adrenal and immune responses. Our findings show that combined stressors can mask, not only exacerbate, select responses to HU. These findings further expand the utility of the HU model for studying possible combined effects of spaceflight stressors.

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          Cortical and trabecular bone mineral loss from the spine and hip in long-duration spaceflight.

          We measured cortical and trabecular bone loss using QCT of the spine and hip in 14 crewmembers making 4- to 6-month flights on the International Space Station. There was no compartment-specific loss of bone in the spine. Cortical bone mineral loss in the hip occurred primarily by endocortical thinning. In an earlier study, areal BMD (aBMD) measurements by DXA showed that cosmonauts making flights of 4- to 12-month duration on the Soviet/Russian MIR spacecraft lost bone at an average rate of 1%/month from the spine and 1.5%/month from the hip. However, because DXA measurements represent the sum of the cortical and trabecular compartments, there is no direct information on how these bone envelopes are affected by spaceflight. To address this, we performed a study of crewmembers (13 males and 1 female; age range, 40-55 years) on long-duration missions (4-6 months) on the International Space Station (ISS). We used DXA to obtain aBMD of the hip and spine and volumetric QCT (vQCT) to assess integral, cortical, and trabecular volumetric BMD (vBMD) in the hip and spine. In the heel, DXA was used to measure aBMD, and quantitative ultrasound (QUS) was used to measure speed of sound (SOS) and broadband ultrasound attenuation (BUA). aBMD was lost at rates of 0.9%/month at the spine (p < 0.001) and 1.4-1.5%/month at the hip (p < 0.001). Spinal integral vBMD was lost at a rate of 0.9%/month (p < 0.001), and trabecular vBMD was lost at 0.7%/month (p < 0.05). In contrast to earlier reports, these changes were generalized across the vertebrae and not focused in the posterior elements. In the hip, integral, cortical, and trabecular vBMD was lost at rates of 1.2-1.5%/month (p < 0.0001), 0.4-0.5%/month (p < 0.01), and 2.2-2.7%/month (p < 0.001), respectively. The cortical bone loss in the hip occurred primarily by cortical thinning. Calcaneal aBMD measurements by DXA showed smaller mean losses (0.4%/month) than hip or spine measurements, with SOS and BUA showing no change. In summary, our results show that ISS crewmembers, on average, experience substantial loss of both trabecular and cortical bone in the hip and somewhat smaller losses in the spine. These results do not support the use of calcaneal aBMD or QUS measurements as surrogate measures to estimate changes in the central skeleton. Copyright 2004 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research
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            Estimating Regression Models with Multiplicative Heteroscedasticity

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              Deletion of nicotinamide nucleotide transhydrogenase: a new quantitive trait locus accounting for glucose intolerance in C57BL/6J mice.

              The C57BL/6J mouse displays glucose intolerance and reduced insulin secretion. The genetic locus underlying this phenotype was mapped to nicotinamide nucleotide transhydrogenase (Nnt) on mouse chromosome 13, a nuclear-encoded mitochondrial protein involved in beta-cell mitochondrial metabolism. C57BL/6J mice have a naturally occurring in-frame five-exon deletion in Nnt that removes exons 7-11. This results in a complete absence of Nnt protein in these mice. We show that transgenic expression of the entire Nnt gene in C57BL/6J mice rescues their impaired insulin secretion and glucose-intolerant phenotype. This study provides direct evidence that Nnt deficiency results in defective insulin secretion and inappropriate glucose homeostasis in male C57BL/6J mice.

                Author and article information

                Front Physiol
                Front Physiol
                Front. Physiol.
                Frontiers in Physiology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                13 September 2019
                : 10
                1Space Biosciences Division, NASA Ames Research Center , Moffett Field, CA, United States
                2KBR , Houston, TX, United States
                3Universities Space Research Association , Columbia, MD, United States
                4Blue Marble Space Institute of Science , Seattle, WA, United States
                5Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Wake Forest School of Medicine , Winston-Salem, NC, United States
                Author notes

                Edited by: Jack J. W. A. van Loon, VU University Amsterdam, Netherlands

                Reviewed by: Alexander Andreev-Andrievskiy, Institute of Biomedical Problems (RAS), Russia; Susan Ann Bloomfield, Texas A&M University, United States; Tooru Mizuno, University of Manitoba, Canada

                *Correspondence: Candice G. T. Tahimic, candiceginn.t.tahimic@ 123456nasa.gov

                This article was submitted to Environmental, Aviation and Space Physiology, a section of the journal Frontiers in Physiology

                Copyright © 2019 Tahimic, Paul, Schreurs, Torres, Rubinstein, Steczina, Lowe, Bhattacharya, Alwood, Ronca and Globus.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 10, Tables: 0, Equations: 0, References: 104, Pages: 14, Words: 0
                Funded by: National Aeronautics and Space Administration 10.13039/100000104
                Award ID: NNH14ZTT001N
                Original Research


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