Angiogenesis, the formation of blood vessels from pre-existing ones, is a key event in pathology, including cancer progression, but also in homeostasis and regeneration. As the phenotype of endothelial cells (ECs) is continuously regulated by local biomechanical forces, studying endothelial behaviour in altered gravity might contribute to new insights towards angiogenesis modulation. This study aimed at characterizing EC behaviour after hypergravity exposure (more than 1g), with special focus on cytoskeleton architecture and capillary-like structure formation. Herein, human umbilical vein ECs (HUVECs) were cultured under two-dimensional and three-dimensional conditions at 3g and 10g for 4 and 16 h inside the large diameter centrifuge at the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) of the European Space Agency. Although no significant tendency regarding cytoskeleton organization was observed for cells exposed to high g's, a slight loss of the perinuclear localization of β-tubulin was observed for cells exposed to 3g with less pronounced peripheral bodies of actin when compared with 1g control cells. Additionally, hypergravity exposure decreased the assembly of HUVECs into capillary-like structures, with a 10g level significantly reducing their organization capacity. In conclusion, short-term hypergravity seems to affect EC phenotype and their angiogenic potential in a time and g-level-dependent manner.
- Received August 28, 2016.
- Accepted October 17, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.