Signal transduction in T lymphocytes--a comparison of the data from space, the free fall machine and the random positioning machine

Adv Space Res. 1999;24(6):793-800. doi: 10.1016/s0273-1177(99)00075-7.


In this paper we discuss the effect of microgravity on T cells and we present the data of studies with two new machines for 0 g simulations. Several experiments in space show that mitogenic T cell activation is lost at 0 g. Immunocytochemistry indicates that such effect is associated with changes of the cytoskeleton. Biochemical studies suggest that the lack of expression of the interleukin-2 receptor is one of the major causes of the loss of activity. In fact, interleukin-2 is the third signal required for full activation. In order to deepen our investigations we are now working with the free-fall machine, FFM, invented by D. Mesland, and with the random positioning machine, RPM, or three-dimensional clinostat, developed by T. Hoson. The FFM produces periods of free-fall lasting approximately 800 ms followed by bounces of 15-30 g lasting 45-60 ms. The RPM eliminates the effect of gravity by rotating biological specimen randomly around two orthogonal axes. While the FFM failed to reproduce the results obtained with T lymphocytes in space, the data from the RPM are in good agreement with those in real microgravity. In fact, the inhibition of the mitotic index in the RPM is 89% compared to static controls. The RPM (as the FFM) can carry markedly larger specimen than the fast rotating clinostat and thus allows to conduct comprehensive studies to select suitable biological objects for further investigations in space.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cells, Cultured
  • Equipment Design
  • Gravitation
  • Humans
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Mitotic Index
  • Rotation*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Space Flight*
  • T-Lymphocytes / physiology*
  • Weightlessness Simulation / instrumentation*
  • Weightlessness*