Lymphocyte reduction induced by hindlimb unloading: Distinct mechanisms in the spleen and thymus

Li Xin Wei, Jian Nian Zhou, Arthur I. Roberts, Yu Fang Shi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Hindlimb unloading (HU) in rodent is a well-accepted ground-based model used to simulate some of the conditions of space flight and reproduce its deleterious effects on the musculoskeletal, cardiovascular and immune systems. In this study, the effects of HU on lymphocyte homeostasis in the spleen and thymus of mice were examined. HU was found to drastically deplete various cell populations in the spleen and thymus. These changes are likely to be mediated by apoptosis, since DNA strand breaks indicative of apoptosis were detected by terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated nick end-labeling in both splenocytes and thymocytes. Surprisingly, administration of opioid antagonists or interference with the Fas-FasL interaction was able to block HU-induced reductions of splenocytes, but not thymocytes. On the other hand, steroid receptor antagonists blocked the reduction of lymphocyte numbers in both spleen and thymus. Therefore, the effects of HU on the homeostasis of splenocytes and thymocytes must be exerted through distinct mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)465-471
Number of pages7
JournalCell Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


  • Apoptosis
  • Hindlimb unloading
  • Lymphocytes
  • Stress


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