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Cell Structure and Function
Vol. 20 (1995) No. 5 P 369-375



The relationship existing between cell morphology and cell metabolism, and the role of mechanical load in bone remodelling are well-known. In osteoblasts, PGE2 mediates part of the response to mechanical stress and induce cell shape changes. We studied the influence of gravity variations on osteoblast morphology and its relationship with PGE2 synthesis during a parabolic flight. ROS 17/2.8 osteosarcoma cells flew 15 or 30 parabolae. We measured cell area and shape factor after fluorescein staining with a semi-automatic image analyser and PGE2 levels by RIA. Significant flight-induced shape changes consisted in a decrease in cell area and an increase in shape factor (cell irregularity), in some cells, as compared to ground controls. This heterogeneity in cell response might be explained by a cell-cycle sensitivity to mechanical stress. A 45 min pretreatment with indomethacin inhibited the flight-induced increase in cell irregularity whereas cell area remained decreased. PGE2 levels were higher in flight than in ground controls. Linear regression analysis showed a significant negative relationship between cell area and PGE2 synthesis. We concluded that ROS 17/2.8 are highly sensitive to gravitational variations and that PGE2 is partly implicated in cell shape changes observed during parabolic flight. However, other mechanisms than PGE2 synthesis condition ROS 17/2.8 morphology in response to mechanical changes.

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