The effects of simulated microgravity on avian embryonic development.

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Based on the few reports available, microgravity (MG) can have adverse effects on the early development of vascularised extra-embryonic membranes in avian eggs. Whether gravity or oxygen availability is the stimulus for development of the blood vessels in the chorioallantoic membranes (CAM) remains unclear. Under gravity the blastoderm forms on top of the yolk sac, closest to the oxygen rich region beneath the shell membranes, and from there the CAM buds from an abdominal extension subsequently to form a close contact with shell membranes. Then as the embryo develops it spreads beneath the eggshell surface to maximise the surface area of the CAM vascular bed available for O2 uptake. To investigate how simulated MG influences development of the CAM and embryo we conducted experiments on chicken embryos during incubation in a 3D-clinostat (control or continuous MG treatment at 5 rpm). Further, to determine if CAM angiogenesis is directed towards regions of high O2 tension or gravity we investigated the effects of wax treatment (50% shell surface area) on development in MG. We found that clinostat MG caused embryonic failure between day 0-5 by preventing normal development of CAM-shell membrane complex. Thereafter acute MG promoted increases in CAM mass, but did not affect embryo mass. Preliminary findings suggest that combined acute MG and wax treatment did not significantly affect embryonic growth in either MG or control groups, but retarded CAM growth in control embryos only. Finally, we will present evidence to show that acute and prolonged exposure to MG does not prevent normal growth and hatching, but might have more subtle effects on hatchling physiology, including reduced heart mass.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122-123
Number of pages2
JournalBiological Sciences in Space
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004
Externally publishedYes

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