Prolonged exposure to microgravity reduces the number and size of fibers in skeletal muscles and understanding how this happens is vital to future long-term space exploration. Multidisciplinary Approach to Analysis of the Functional Alterations Induced by Microgravity in Human Satellite Cells and Study of Possible Countermeasures (MYOGRAVITY) looks at molecular, cellular and functional changes in satellite cells, which are adult stem cells involved in the growth, maintenance and repair of skeletal muscle tissue. It also investigates the possible role of a particular gene, IGF-1, in counteracting these microgravity-induced muscle changes.
The goal of the Multidisciplinary Approach to Analysis of the Functional Alterations Induced by Microgravity in Human Satellite Cells and Study of Possible Countermeasures (MYOGRAVITY) investigation is to study the modifications induced by the exposure to microgravity, both simulated on ground by the use of a Random Positioning Machine (RPM), and real-time on board the International Space Station (ISS), in human muscle Satellite Cells (SCs) and their progeny, the myoblasts.
Molecular alterations and functional deficits of human muscle SCs are identified, consequent to the exposure to microgravity, and potentially linked to microgravity-induced muscle atrophy. The comparison between data obtained with human SCs and reported data obtained in murine SCs, make it possible to establish if murine SCs/myoblasts might be consider an affordable model in the study of human-related microgravity effects on muscle tissue. The comparison between data obtained from SCs cultivated in simulated vs real microgravity conditions is important to validate RPM as an affordable tool to artificially reproduce microgravity on the ground.