By: Mary Ann Porucznik
During the past two years, orthopaedic researchers have had a unique opportunity to study the impact of microgravity, such as that experienced during spaceflight, on musculoskeletal tissues. Over the course of three space shuttle missions, a NASA mouse-tissue Biospecimen Sharing Program looked at the effects of spaceflight not only on bone and muscle but also on cartilage and tendon. Three investigators involved in the program—Stavros Thomopoulos, PhD; Jeffrey C. Lotz, PhD; and Eduardo Almeida, PhD—presented “New Insights into the Effects of Spaceflight in Musculoskeletal Tissues” to members of the Orthopaedic Research Society (ORS).
“This is the dream of every animal studies committee,” noted Dr. Thomopoulos in his introduction; “it was probably the best utilization of animals that I’ve ever seen. The animals were dissected and every tissue was passed on to a different researcher for a specific study.” His studies covered the rotator cuff—from muscle to tendon to bone.