The effects of simulated +Gz and microgravity on intervertebral disc degeneration in rabbits

Sci Rep. 2019 Nov 12;9(1):16608. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-53246-7.


The overall objective of this study was to test the hypothesis that +Gz (hypergravity/positive acceleration) and microgravity can both aggravate intervertebral disc degeneration (IVDD). Due to +Gz and microgravity, many pilots develop IVDD. However, the lack of animal models of IVDD under conditions of simulated +Gz and microgravity has hampered research on the onset and prevention of IVDD. Rabbits were randomly allotted to a control group, microgravity group, +Gz group, or mixed (+Gz + microgravity) group. A tail-suspension model was utilized to simulate a microgravity environment and an animal centrifuge to mimic +Gz conditions. After exposure to the above conditions for 4, 8, and 24 weeks, the body weights (BW) of animals in the control group gradually increased over time, while those of animals in the microgravity and mixed groups both decreased (p < 0.001). As compared with the control group, the proteoglycan content of animals in the other three groups was significantly reduced (F = 192.83, p < 0.001). The imageological, histopathological, and immunohistochemical changes to the L6-S1 intervertebral disc samples suggests that the effects of +Gz and microgravity can aggravate IVDD over time. The mixed effects of +Gz and microgravity had the greatest effect on degeneration and +Gz had a particularly greater effect than microgravity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Hypergravity / adverse effects*
  • Intervertebral Disc / metabolism
  • Intervertebral Disc / pathology
  • Intervertebral Disc Degeneration / etiology*
  • Intervertebral Disc Degeneration / metabolism
  • Intervertebral Disc Degeneration / pathology
  • Intervertebral Disc Degeneration / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Rabbits
  • Weightlessness Simulation / adverse effects*