The development of vestibular connections in rat embryos in microgravity.

L. L. Bruce, B. Fritzsch

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37 Scopus citations


Existing experimental embryological data suggests that the vestibular system initially develops in a very rigid and genetically controlled manner. Nevertheless, gravity appears to be a critical factor in the normal development of the vestibular system that monitors position with respect to gravity (saccule and utricle). In fact several studies have shown that prenatal exposure to microgravity causes temporary deficits in gravity-dependent righting behaviors, and prolonged exposure to hypergravity from conception to weaning causes permanent deficits in gravity-dependent righting behaviors. Data on hypergravity and microgravity exposure suggest some changes in the otolith formation during development, in particular the size although these changes may actually vary with the species involved. In adults exposed to microgravity there is a change in the synaptic density in the optic sensory epithelia suggesting that some adaptation may occur there. However, effects have also been reported in the brainstem. Several studies have shown synaptic changes in the lateral vestibular nucleus and in the nodulus of the cerebellum after neonatal exposure to hypergravity. We report here that synaptogenesis in the medial vestibular nucleus is retarded in developing rat embryos that were exposed to microgravity from gestation days 9 to 19.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)P59-62
JournalJournal of gravitational physiology : a journal of the International Society for Gravitational Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine(all)


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