Mammalian and Invertebrate Models as Complementary Tools for Gaining Mechanistic Insight on Muscle Responses to Spaceflight

Thomas Cahill, Henry Cope, Joseph J. Bass, Eliah G. Overbey, Rachel Gilbert, Willian Abraham da Silveira, Amber M. Paul, Tejaswini Mishra, Raúl Herranz, Sigrid S. Reinsch, Sylvain V. Costes, Gary Hardiman, Nathaniel J. Szewczyk, Candice G. T. Tahimic*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
109 Downloads (Pure)


Bioinformatics approaches have proven useful in understanding biological responses to spaceflight. Spaceflight experiments remain resource intensive and rare. One outstanding issue is how to maximize scientific output from a limited number of omics datasets from traditional animal models including nematodes, fruitfly, and rodents. The utility of omics data from invertebrate models in anticipating mammalian responses to spaceflight has not been fully explored. Hence, we performed comparative analyses of transcriptomes of soleus and extensor digitorum longus (EDL) in mice that underwent 37 days of spaceflight. Results indicate shared stress responses and altered circadian rhythm. EDL showed more robust growth signals and Pde2a downregulation, possibly underlying its resistance to atrophy versus soleus. Spaceflight and hindlimb unloading mice shared differential regulation of proliferation, circadian, and neuronal signaling. Shared gene regulation in muscles of humans on bedrest and space flown rodents suggest targets for mitigating muscle atrophy in space and on Earth. Spaceflight responses of C. elegans were more similar to EDL. Discrete life stages of D. melanogaster have distinct utility in anticipating EDL and soleus responses. In summary, spaceflight leads to shared and discrete molecular responses between muscle types and invertebrate models may augment mechanistic knowledge gained from rodent spaceflight and ground-based studies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number9470
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2021


  • spaceflight
  • muscle
  • transcriptomics
  • bedrest
  • hindlimb unloading
  • microgravity
  • animal models
  • cross-species comparison


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