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1 December 2002 Models to Study Gravitational Biology of Mammalian Reproduction
Janet Tou, April Ronca, Richard Grindeland, Charles Wade
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Mammalian reproduction evolved within Earth's 1-g gravitational field. As we move closer to the reality of space habitation, there is growing scientific interest in how different gravitational states influence reproduction in mammals. Habitation of space and extended spaceflight missions require prolonged exposure to decreased gravity (hypogravity, i.e., weightlessness). Lift-off and re-entry of the spacecraft are associated with exposure to increased gravity (hypergravity). Existing data suggest that spaceflight is associated with a constellation of changes in reproductive physiology and function. However, limited spaceflight opportunities and confounding effects of various nongravitational factors associated with spaceflight (i.e., radiation, stress) have led to the development of ground-based models for studying the effects of altered gravity on biological systems. Human bed rest and rodent hindlimb unloading paradigms are used to study exposure to hypogravity. Centrifugation is used to study hypergravity. Here, we review the results of spaceflight and ground-based models of altered gravity on reproductive physiology. Studies utilizing ground-based models that simulate hyper- and hypogravity have produced reproductive results similar to those obtained from spaceflight and are contributing new information on biological responses across the gravity continuum, thereby confirming the appropriateness of these models for studying reproductive responses to altered gravity and the underlying mechanisms of these responses. Together, these unique tools are yielding new insights into the gravitational biology of reproduction in mammals.

Janet Tou, April Ronca, Richard Grindeland, and Charles Wade "Models to Study Gravitational Biology of Mammalian Reproduction," Biology of Reproduction 67(6), 1681-1687, (1 December 2002).
Received: 7 May 2002; Accepted: 1 August 2002; Published: 1 December 2002

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