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Effects of Chronic Hypergravity on the Dopaminergic Neuronal System in Drosophila MelanogasterUpon atmospheric exitre-entry and during training, astronauts are subjected to temporary periods of hypergravity, which has been implicated in the activation of oxidative stress pathways contributing to mitochondrial dysfunction and neuronal degeneration. The pathogenesis of Parkinsons disease and other neurodegenerative disorders is associated with oxidative damage to neurons involved in dopamine systems of the brain. Our study aims to examine the effects of a hypergravitational developmental environment on the degeneration of dopaminergic systems in Drosophila melanogaster. Male and female flies (Gal4-UAS transgenic line) were hatched and raised to adulthood in centrifugal hypergravity (97rpm, 3g). The nuclear expression of the reporter, Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) is driven by the dopaminergic enzyme tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) promoter, allowing for the targeted visualization of dopamine producing neurons. After being raised to adulthood and kept in hypergravity until 18 days of age, flies were dissected and the expression of TH was measured by fluorescence confocal microscopy. TH expression in the fly brains was used to obtain counts of healthy dopaminergic neurons for flies raised in chronic hypergravity and control groups. Dopaminergic neuron expression data were compared with those of previous studies that limited hypergravity exposure to late life in order to determine the flies adaptability to the gravitational environment when raised from hatching through adulthood. Overall, we observed a significant effect of chronic hypergravity exposure contributing to deficits in dopaminergic neuron expression (p 0.003). Flies raised in 3g had on average lower dopaminergic neuron counts (mean 97.7) when compared with flies raised in 1g (mean 122.8). We suspect these lower levels of TH expression are a result of oxidative dopaminergic cell loss in flies raised in hypergravity. In future studies, we hope to further elucidate the mechanism by which hypergravity-induced oxidative stress damages the dopaminergic neuronal system, as well as examining possible chemical countermeasures to the hypergravity-induced oxidative stress response in dopaminergic neurons in order to combat cell death and consequent mental and behavioral deficits.
Document ID
Document Type
Pelos, Andrew (Pomona Coll. Claremont, CA, United States)
Hosamani, Ravikumar (Oak Ridge Associated Universities Huntsville, AL, United States)
Bhattacharya, Sharmila (NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
February 5, 2018
Publication Date
October 25, 2017
Subject Category
Aerospace Medicine
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
American Society for Gravitational and Space Research Meeting (ASGSR)(Seattle, WA)
Distribution Limits
Use by or on behalf of the US Gov. Permitted.