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Simulated microgravity enhances oligodendrocyte mitochondrial function and lipid metabolism

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The primary energy sources of mammalian cells are proteins, fats, and sugars that are processed by well-known biochemical mechanisms that have been discovered and studied in 1G (terrestrial gravity). Here we sought to determine how simulated microgravity (sim-µG) impacts both energy and lipid metabolism in oligodendrocytes (OLs), the myelin-forming cells in the central nervous system. We report increased mitochondrial respiration and increased glycolysis 24 hr after exposure to sim-µG. Moreover, examination of the secretome after 3 days' exposure of OLs to sim-µG increased the Krebs cycle (Krebs and Weitzman, ) flux in sim-µG. The secretome study also revealed a significant increase in the synthesis of fatty acids and complex lipids such as 1,2-dipalmitoyl-GPC (5.67); lysolipids like 1-oleoyl-GPE (4.48) were also increased by microgravity. Although longer-chain lipids were not observed in this study, it is possible that at longer time points OLs would have continued moving forward toward the synthesis of lipids that constitute myelin. For centuries, basic developmental biology research has been the pillar of an array of discoveries that have led to clinical applications; we believe that studies using microgravity will open new avenues to our understanding of the brain in health and disease-in particular, to the discovery of new molecules and mechanisms impossible to unveil while in 1G. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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