Space Flight Model Links Aging, Osteoporosis and Immunity

Dr. Jean-Pol Frippiat Stress, Immunity and Pathogens Laboratory at Lorraine University Vandoeuvre-lès-Nancy, Interview with:
Dr. Jean-Pol Frippiat
Stress, Immunity and Pathogens Laboratory
Lorraine University
Vandoeuvre-lès-Nancy, France 

What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Frippiat: Osteoporosis is associated to spaceflight. Consequently, we wondered whether changes in bone micro-structure induced by a ground-based model of spaceflight, hindlimb unloading (HU) that simulates some of the effects of spaceflight on mice, induces changes in B lymphocyte production in the bone marrow.

To this end, we analyzed both bone parameters and the frequency of cells of the B lineage in the bone marrow of young, old and HU mice. We found that HU leads to a decrease in both bone micro-structure and the frequency of B cell progenitors in the bone marrow. A major block at the pro-B to pre-B cell transition was observed indicating a decrease in the formation of B cells in the bone marrow. Interestingly, the modifications in B cell production were similar to those observed in aged mice.

These findings demonstrate that mechanical unloading, to which astronauts are subjected during spaceflight, results in a decrease in B cell differentiation that resemble age-related modifications in B lymphopoiesis.

What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Frippiat: The thing to remember is that a change in bone structure, due to microgravity in space or inactivity, aging or bed-rest for medical reasons on Earth, can have serious consequences on the immune system, as immune cells are produced in bones, thereby potentially compromising host defenses. Physical activity is a good option to avoid these problems.

What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Frippiat: This study shows that the ground-based model of spacefligth used here (HU) could be interesting to improve our understanding of the relationship between bone remodeling and B cell production in the bones, both in the context of spaceflight and normal aging on Earth.


Chloé Lescale, Véronique Schenten, Dounia Djeghloul, Meriem Bennabi, Fanny Gaignier, Katleen Vandamme, Catherine Strazielle, Isabelle Kuzniak, Hervé Petite, Christine Dosquet, Jean-Pol Frippiat, and Michele Goodhardt. Hind limb unloading, a model of spaceflight conditions, leads to decreased B lymphopoiesis similar to aging. FASEB J. February 2015 29:455-463; doi:10.1096/fj.14-259770

[wysija_form id=”1″] Interview with: Dr. Jean-Pol Frippiat (2015). Space Flight Model Links Aging, Osteoporosis and Immunity