Early space flight experiments have shown that microgravity suppresses the immune response in humans, especially in monocytes. Protein Kinase C (PKC) is a key protein controlling growth and differentiation of monocytes into macrophages. Studies by Hatton have shown that the distribution, cellular quantity, and kinetics of translocation of PKC are altered in microgravity. We have conducted studies of PKC activation using phorbol 12,13-dibutyrate (PDBu) under normal and altered gravity. Increasing gravity force correlates with activation of ERK1/2, PKC, and induction of gene expression of TNF-α, ICAM1, IL-1β, and COX-2. Using rotating wall vessels (RWV) to provide a reduced gravity environment, we found a loss of ERK and PKC activation, as well as a decrease in gene expression of TNF-α, ICAM1, IL-1β, and COX-2. Cumulatively, these results suggest that activation of ERK and PKC signal transduction occurs over a gravity continuum.
Supported by NASA NCC 2-1361.
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