A major challenge for astronauts in long-duration space travel is combatting the hazardous spaceflight environment caused by microgravity and increased levels of ionizing radiation. Microgravity damages cellular DNA by increasing the production of harmful reactive oxygen species, while ionizing radiation damages DNA by creating double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) breaks. Cellular damage due to microgravity and radiation has been investigated using ground-based models, but most models consider microgravity and ionizing radiation alone, or asynchronously. Synchronous modeling better mimics spaceflight conditions and can be used to understand the combined effects of microgravity and ionizing radiation. However, commercially available devices to model microgravity and radiation are rare and costly, requiring both a rotary cell culture system and beam time at a national lab or an independent radiation source. While independent radiation sources are becoming less difficult to use or purchase, commercially available devices to simulate microgravity are still cost prohibitive to many researchers.
In this study, we developed a low-cost, open source cell culture system for studying the role that synchronous ionizing radiation and microgravity play in pathophysiology during spaceflight conditions. Our system was validated by exposing C2C12 mouse myoblast cells to ionizing radiation at levels approximating 9-month and 10-year Mars missions while simulating microgravity. DNA damage to cells was quantified using -H2AX (a fluorescent marker for double-stranded breaks), while reactive oxygen species production was visualized using CellROX green. Cells exposed to long-term mission doses had statistically significant increases in DNA damage and ROS production compared to both the short-term and control conditions. Our proof of concept shows that the low-cost, open source mini-RCCS can be used to mimic the radiation and microgravity hazards of the spaceflight environment at the same level as expensive commercial systems.
Author ORCID Identifier
Elizabeth Vargis https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3141-9317
JR Dennison https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5504-3353
SolidWorks required to use data.
Utah NASA Space Grant Consortium
Utah State University
Utah NASA Space Grant Consortium, Research Infrastructure Minigrant 2017
Research Infrastructure Minigrant 2017
SolidWorks files were created by graduate and undergraduate research assistants on this project and used to machine and assemble the miniature rotary cell culture system.
RCCS - rotary cell culture system
Biological Engineering | Physics
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Vargas, E., & Dennison, J. R. (2019). Development of a Low-Cost, Open Source Miniature Rotary Cell Culture System to Simulate Microgravity within an Irradiated Environment. Utah State University. https://doi.org/10.26078/HNW9-6A46
Additional FilesREADME.txt (4 kB)
Apparatus_Base_V5.SLDDRW (354 kB)
Base_Plate_V5.SLDDRW (282 kB)
bottom_of_base_V4.SLDDRW (254 kB)
Bottom_V4.SLDDRW (761 kB)
Polycarbonate_Tube_1_5.SLDDRW (229 kB)
Shielding_Plate.SLDDRW (253 kB)
Shielding_Plate_Motor.SLDDRW (236 kB)
Top_V2.SLDDRW (292 kB)
Caldwell_data.xlsx (15 kB)