The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 50: 183 - 191 (2006)

Vol 50, Issue 2-3

Special Issue: Developmental Morphodynamics

Effects of microgravity on cell cytoskeleton and embryogenesis

Open Access | Published: 15 February 2006

Susan J. Crawford-Young*

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada


The aim of this review is to compile, summarize and discuss the effects of microgravity on embryos, cell structure and function that have been demonstrated from data obtained during experiments performed in space or in altered gravity induced by clinostats. In cells and tissues cellular structure and genetic expression may be changed in microgravity and this has a variety of effects on embryogenesis which include death of the embryo, failure of neural tube closure, or final deformities to the overall morphology of the newborn or hatchling. Many species and protocols have been used for microgravity space experiments making it difficult to compare results. Experiments on the ways in which embryonic development and cell interactions occur in microgravity could also be performed. Experiments that have been done with cells in microgravity show changes in morphology, cytoskeleton and function. Changes in cytoskeleton have been noted and studies on microtubules in gravity have shown that they are gravity sensitive. Further study of basic chemical reactions that occur in cells should be done to shed some light on the underling processes leading to the changes that are observed in cells and embryos in microgravity.


embryo, development, cell ,cytoskeleton, microgravity

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