Effects of microgravity on vestibular development and function in rats: Genetics and environment

April E. Ronca, Bernd Fritzsch, Jeffrey R. Alberts, Laura L. Bruce

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

17 Scopus citations


Our anatomical and behavioral studies of embryonic rats that developed in microgravity suggest that the vestibular sensory system, like the visual system, has genetically mediated processes of development that establish crude connections between the periphery and the brain. Environmental stimuli also regulate connection formation including terminal branch formation and fine-tuning of synaptic contacts. Axons of vestibular sensory neurons from gravistatic as well as linear acceleration receptors reach their targets in both microgravity and normal gravity, suggesting that this is a genetically regulated component of development. However, microgravity exposure delays the development of terminal branches and synapses in gravistatic but not linear acceleration-sensitive neurons and also produces behavioral changes. These latter changes reflect environmentally controlled processes of development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-221
Number of pages7
JournalKorean journal of biological sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2000


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