Fibroblast differentiation and matrix remodeling impaired under simulated microgravity in 3D cell culture model

Jiranuwat Sapudom, Mei Elgindi, Marc Arnoux, Nizar Drou, Anna Garcia‐sabaté, Jeremy C.M. Teo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Exposure to microgravity affects astronauts’ health in adverse ways. However, less is known about the extent to which fibroblast differentiation during the wound healing process is affected by the lack of gravity. One of the key steps of this process is the differentiation of fibroblasts into myofibroblasts, which contribute functionally through extracellular matrix production and remodeling. In this work, we utilized collagen‐based three‐dimensional (3D) matrices to mimic interstitial tissue and studied fibroblast differentiation under simulated microgravity (sμG). Our results demonstrated that alpha‐smooth muscle actin (αSMA) expression and translocation of Smad2/3 into the cell nucleus were reduced upon exposure to sμG compared to the 1g control, which suggests the impairment of fibroblast differentiation under sμG. Moreover, matrix remodeling and production were decreased under sμG, which is in line with the impaired fibroblast differentiation. We further investigated changes on a transcriptomic level using RNA sequencing. The results demonstrated that sμG has less effect on fibroblast transcriptomes, while sμG triggers changes in the transcriptome of myofibroblasts. Several genes and biological pathways found through transcriptome analysis have previously been reported to impair fibroblast differentiation. Overall, our data indicated that fibroblast differentiation, as well as matrix production and remodeling, are impaired in 3D culture under sμG conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number11911
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021


  • 3D cell culture
  • Fibroblast differentiation
  • Matrix remodeling
  • Microgravity
  • Tissue repair

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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