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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 434803, 13 pages
Review Article

The Impact of Microgravity and Hypergravity on Endothelial Cells

1Department of Biomedical and Clinical Sciences “L. Sacco”, Università di Milano, Via Gian Battista Grassi 74, 20157 Milan, Italy
2ASAcampus Joint Laboratory, ASA Research Division, Department of Experimental and Clinical Biomedical Sciences “M. Serio”, University of Florence, Viale Pieraccini 6, 50139 Florence, Italy
3Department of Life Sciences, University of Siena, Via A. Moro 2, 53100 Siena, Italy

Received 4 July 2014; Revised 20 October 2014; Accepted 4 November 2014

Academic Editor: Jack J. W. A. Van Loon

Copyright © 2015 Jeanette A. M. Maier et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The endothelial cells (ECs), which line the inner surface of vessels, play a fundamental role in maintaining vascular integrity and tissue homeostasis, since they regulate local blood flow and other physiological processes. ECs are highly sensitive to mechanical stress, including hypergravity and microgravity. Indeed, they undergo morphological and functional changes in response to alterations of gravity. In particular microgravity leads to changes in the production and expression of vasoactive and inflammatory mediators and adhesion molecules, which mainly result from changes in the remodelling of the cytoskeleton and the distribution of caveolae. These molecular modifications finely control cell survival, proliferation, apoptosis, migration, and angiogenesis. This review summarizes the state of the art on how microgravity and hypergravity affect cultured ECs functions and discusses some controversial issues reported in the literature.