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Effect of 16-Day Spaceflight on the Morphology of Thick-Toed Geckos (Pachydactylus Bibronii Smith, 1846)There are grounds to believe that space flown experiments on thick-toed geckos may help solve the problem of floatation of vertebrates in microgravity. Geckos of this species carry on the lower surface of their toes numerous setae, which allow them to remain attached to any surfaces regardless of the gravitational effects. Experiments were performed on 5 animals in each of the following groups: flight, basal, synchronous and laboratory controls. 32 hours after a 16- day flight the animals were euthanazed and examined using traditional histology and X-ray microtomography. Body mass losses were 10% in the flight animals, 7.4% in the synchronous controls, and 12.3% in the laboratory controls. Since the flight and synchronous animals were kept at 15-19 C, whereas the laboratory controls - at 26-28 C, it can be inferred that environmental temperatures impacted animal metabolism no less than flight induced stress. Blood tests of the flown animals showed a 12% decrease of erythrocytes and a 40% decrease of dark-nuclear granulocytes, with the number of light-nuclear granulocytes remaining unchanged. In the small intestine the number of goblet cells increased allowing them to occupy a large portion of the cyptal surface. Enhanced secretion was accompanied by the appearance of dead intestinal cells in the lumen. Clusters of degraded hepatocytes were found at the liver edges of flight animals. Signs of liver involution were similar to the changes produced by alcohol consumption but did not spread to its central part. In the heart, insignificant hypertrophy and excessive blood supply that still remained within the physiological norm were detected. No significant changes were found in the pancreas, lungs, nervous systems or the snouts of the flown animals, but the volume of their gallbladders was greater than in controls. The epithelium of toe pads of the flight animals became thinner. Histological examination of the humerus did not demonstrate significant mineral losses. However, X-ray microtomography showed changes in the trabecular structure in the subepyphyseal zone of bones in flight animals compared to the controls. In summary, all the changes detected in the flight animals were adaptive. Therefore, geckos of this species can be used as an animal model for morphological studies in longer-duration space flights.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Gulimova, V. I. (Institute of Human Morphology Moscow, Russian Federation)
Nikitin, V. B. (Institute of Human Morphology Moscow, Russian Federation)
Asadchikov, V. E. (Shubnikov Inst. of Crystallography Moscow, Russia)
Buzmakov, A. V. (Shubnikov Inst. of Crystallography Moscow, Russia)
Okshtein, I. L. (Alikhanov Institute of Theoretical and Expermental Physics Moscow Russia)
Almeida, E. A. C. (NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Ilyin, E. A. (Institute of Biomedical Problems Moscow, Russian Federation)
Tairbekov, M. G. (Institute of Biomedical Problems Moscow, Russian Federation)
Saveliev, S. V. (Institute of Human Morphology Moscow, Russian Federation)
Date Acquired
August 23, 2013
Publication Date
July 1, 2006
Publication Information
Publication: Journal of Gravitational Physiology, Volume 13, No. 1
Subject Category
Aerospace Medicine
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IDRelationTitle20070022623Analytic PrimaryJournal of Gravitational Physiology, Volume 13, No. 1