The effects of simulated weightlessness on bone biomechanical and biochemical properties in the maturing rat

J Biomech. 1988;21(9):755-67. doi: 10.1016/0021-9290(88)90284-9.


Histomorphometric and biomechanical changes in bone resulting from hypogravity (simulated weightlessness) were examined in this study. Using a head-down hindlimb suspension model, three groups of six male rats underwent simulated weightlessness for periods of one, two and three weeks while a fourth recovery group was suspended for two weeks followed by two weeks of normal activity. Biomechanical data were collected during static and dynamic bending and torsion tests on intact femora. Histomorphometric values were determined from midshaft bone cross sections and material properties were obtained using ash and calcium assays. The experimental groups exhibited significantly lower geometric and material properties than the controls, resulting in structural hypotrophy; geometric and material changes contributed equally to the structural changes. Recovery following a return to normal activity was indicated, although full recovery may take longer than the weightlessness period. In the rat, altered maturation and reduced bone strength were the sequelae of weightlessness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology
  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Bone Development
  • Bone and Bones / analysis
  • Bone and Bones / pathology
  • Bone and Bones / physiopathology*
  • Calcium / analysis
  • Femur / analysis
  • Femur / pathology
  • Femur / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Torsion Abnormality
  • Weightlessness / adverse effects*


  • Calcium