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Simulated Weightlessness May Result in Cerebral Artery Calcification in Rats by Altering OPG/RANKL/RANK System
Author(s): 
Pages: 1-6
Year: Issue:  1
Journal: Space Medicine & Medical Engineering

Keyword:  simulated weightlessnessvascular calcificationvascular smooth muscle cellosteoprotegerinreceptor activator of nuclear factor κB;
Abstract: Objective To explore the effects of 4-week and 8-week simulated weightlessness by hindlimb unloading(HU) on cerebral artery calcification in rats and its underlying mechanisms.Methods Seventy-five rats were randomly divided into control group,4-week HU group and 8-week HU group(n=25,each).Hindlimb unloading rat model was used to simulate the effects of weightlessness.After successful modeling,the cerebral arteries were separated.The quantification of calcium content,the alizarin red staining and the Von Kossa staining were used to detect the calcium salt deposition.The alkaline phosphatase(ALP) activity was measured to detect the dysfunction of calcium metabolism related enzyme.Western blot analysis was performed to measure the protein expression levels of osteoblast markers,osteoprotegerin(OPG),receptor activator of nuclear factor κB(RANK) and RANK ligand(RANKL).Results Compared with the control group,the calcium content and the calcium salt deposition were increased;the ALP activity was enhanced;the protein expression of osteoblast markers Runx2,Msx2,osteocalcin increased,whereas the expression of systolic phenotype marker SM22α decreased in the cerebral arteries of both 4-week and 8-week HU rats(P<0.05,P<0.01).Moreover,the protein expression of OPG,RANK and RANKL were increased in the cerebral arteries of 4-week HU rats.Conclusion The 4-week and 8-week simulated microgravity could result in osteogenic transdifferentiation of cerebral artery smooth muscle cells and thus vascular calcification in rats,and the dysregulation of OPG/RANKL/RANK system may account for the above changes.
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