Gravitational unloading induces an anti-angiogenic phenotype in human microvascular endothelial cells

Massimo Mariotti, Jeanette A M Maier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Creating conditions similar to those occurring during exposure of cells to microgravity modulates endothelial functions. We have previously demonstrated that human macrovascular endothelial cells in simulated hypogravity proliferate faster than controls, partly because they downregulate interleukin 1a. On the contrary, murine microvascular endothelial cells are growth inhibited in simulated hypogravity, and this is due, at least in part, to the decrease of interleukin 6. Since endothelial cells are very heterogeneous and differences between various species have been reported, we exposed human microvascular cells to gravitational unloading and found that it retards cell growth without affecting cell migration. Interestingly, we detected the induction of Tissue Inhibitor of Metalloprotease-2, which inhibits endothelial growth in vitro and angiogenesis in vivo. Together with the finding that hypogravity stimulates the synthesis of nitric oxide, involved also in neovascularization, our results underscore a modulation of the angiogenic properties of microvascular human endothelial cells. We also show that hypogravity inhibits proteasome activity, thus suggesting that post-translational mechanisms are involved in the adaptations of these cells to hypogravity. These results underscore that hypogravity differently impacts on micro- and macro-vascular human endothelial cells. In particular, these results may shed some light on the molecular mechanisms contributing to the impairment of angiogenesis observed in different models in space. Our data might also explain why bioengineered tissues to be used for regenerative medicine fail to neovascularize when assembled in simulated hypogravity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-135
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Cellular Biochemistry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2008


  • Endothelial cell
  • Gravity
  • Microvasculature
  • TIMP-2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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