The precise impact that gravity, or the lack of gravity, plays in the key phases of mammalian reproduction remains a mystery. Humans and all other known living species have adapted to the effects of gravity on Earth. Only recently has the study of gravitational biology become truly possible. As humans spend increasingly longer periods of time in space, the effect of minimal gravity (microgravity) on mammalian reproduction must be addressed.
This article examines the devices used to simulate microgravity on Earth. It also explores the evidence behind microgravity’s effects on immunomodulation, cell signaling pathways, and gene activation, as well as the impact of these changes on embryo development.
As humans look to the stars with plans for eventual colonization of space stations and other planets, understanding and overcoming the detrimental effects of microgravity on embryo development will be important in creating successful extraplanetary assisted reproductive technology (ART) programs. The necessity of this work becomes ever greater as our population approaches the carrying capacity of our planet. Even if we avoid planetary overpopulation, these studies can still provide valuable insight and improvements to ART therapies on Earth.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.