Rotating-wall vessels (RWVs) allow for the cultivation of cells in simulated microgravity. Previously, we showed that the cultivation of lymphoblastoid cells in simulated microgravity results in the suppression of Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) reactivation. To determine if the suppression generated by simulated microgravity could be reversed by changing to static culture conditions, cells were cultured in an RWV for 5 d, and then switched to static conditions. Following the switch to static conditions, viral reactivation remained suppressed (significantly lower) relative to static control cultures over a 4-d period. Additionally, experiments were conducted to determine if chemical treatment could induce viral reactivation in cells from simulated-microgravity cultures. Cells were cultured in static flask cultures and in simulated microgravity in RWVs for 4–7 d. The cells were then transferred to 50-cm3 tubes, and treated with 3 mM n-butyrate for 48 h, or 18 ng/ml of phorbol ester, viz., 12-0-tetradecanoylphorbol-13 acetate (TPA) for either 2 or 48 h, under static conditions. Although EBV was inducible, the cells from simulated-microgravity cultures treated with n-butyrate displayed significantly lower levels of viral-antigen expression compared with the treated cells from static cultures. Also, incubation with TPA for 2–3 h, but not for 48 h, reactivated EBV in cells from RWV cultures. In contrast, EBV was inducible in cells from static cultures treated for either 2–3 or 48 h with TPA. TPA reactivation of EBV following a 2–3-h period of treatment indicates that the protein kinase C signal-transduction pathway is not impaired in lymphoblastoid cells cultured in simulated microgravity. However, the exposure of B-lymphoblastoid cells from simulated-microgravity cultures to TPA for more than 3–4 h triggered a lytic event (apoptosis or necrosis), which prevented replication of the virus. Thus, EBV-infected cells in simulated microgravity were negatively selected in the absence of any cytotoxic cells.
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Vol. 37 • No. 4