BACKGROUND: Weightlessness results in negative physiological changes. Excessive iron in organisms likewise leads to numerous damages. In this study, we investigated the effect of a combination of iron overload and weightlessness simulated by tail-suspending on rats.
METHODS: Male Wistar rats were randomly divided into four groups: control (CON), iron overload (IO), simulated weightlessness (SW), and iron overload plus simulated weightlessness (IO+SW). After the experiment, the rats were evaluated through routine blood, serum ferritin, histology, and micro-computed tomography analyses.
RESULTS: As compared to CON, a combination of IO and SW resulted in a 15.9% loss of rat bodyweight versus treatment with each alone (3.3% in IO, 11.7% in SW group). Although iron overload is mainly responsible for an increase in hemoglobin (4.7% in IO the group) and serum ferritin (71.7% in IO group) concentration, simulated weightlessness facilitates such increase (5.3% and 118.4% in IO + SW group, respectively). Similarly, iron overload resulted in severe iron deposition on the liver and spleen, and the deposition became more serious in the combined model. In contrast, the simulated weightlessness is mainly responsible for the damage to the femur.
DISCUSSION: All the results demonstrated that the combined conditions exhibited a significantly different effect on rats from those with either simulated weightlessness or iron overload alone, and that these different effects are organ-dependent. Wang A, Zang J, Wang J, Nie G, Zhao G, Chen B. Excessive iron and weightlessness effects on the femurs and livers of rats.
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