Spaceflight and hind limb unloading induces an arthritic phenotype in knee articular cartilage and menisci of rodents. Academic Article uri icon


  • Reduced knee weight-bearing from prescription or sedentary lifestyles are associated with cartilage degradation; effects on the meniscus are unclear. Rodents exposed to spaceflight or hind limb unloading (HLU) represent unique opportunities to evaluate this question. This study evaluated arthritic changes in the medial knee compartment that bears the highest loads across the knee after actual and simulated spaceflight, and recovery with subsequent full weight-bearing. Cartilage and meniscal degradation in mice were measured via microCT, histology, and proteomics and/or biochemically after: (1)~35days on the International Space Station (ISS); (2) 13-days aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis; or (3) 30days of HLU, followed by a 49-day weight-bearing readaptation with/without exercise. Cartilage degradation post-ISS and HLU occurred at similar spatial locations, the tibial-femoral cartilage-cartilage contact point, with meniscal volume decline. Cartilage and meniscal glycosaminoglycan content were decreased in unloaded mice, with elevated catabolic enzymes (e.g., matrix metalloproteinases), and elevated oxidative stress and catabolic molecular pathway responses in menisci. After the 13-day Shuttle flight, meniscal degradation was observed. During readaptation, recovery of cartilage volume and thickness occurred with exercise. Reduced weight-bearing from either spaceflight or HLU induced an arthritic phenotype in cartilage and menisci, and exercise promoted recovery.

published proceedings

  • Sci Rep

altmetric score

  • 1

author list (cited authors)

  • Kwok, A. T., Mohamed, N. S., Plate, J. F., Yammani, R. R., Rosas, S., Bateman, T. A., ... Willey, J. S.

citation count

  • 5

complete list of authors

  • Kwok, Andy T||Mohamed, Nequesha S||Plate, Johannes F||Yammani, Raghunatha R||Rosas, Samuel||Bateman, Ted A||Livingston, Eric||Moore, Joseph E||Kerr, Bethany A||Lee, Jingyun||Furdui, Cristina M||Tan, Li||Bouxsein, Mary L||Ferguson, Virginia L||Stodieck, Louis S||Zawieja, David C||Delp, Michael D||Mao, Xiao W||Willey, Jeffrey S

publication date

  • May 2021