Menu

 

Task Book: Biological & Physical Sciences Division and Human Research Program
Advanced Search     

Project Title:  Whole Joint Health: Investigating Modeled Spaceflight Changes in Mice (Postdoctoral Fellowship) Reduce
Fiscal Year: FY 2016 
Division: Human Research 
Research Discipline/Element:
HRP HHC:Human Health Countermeasures
Start Date: 11/01/2012  
End Date: 10/31/2015  
Task Last Updated: 03/10/2016 
Download report in PDF pdf
Principal Investigator/Affiliation:   Lau, Anthony G Ph.D. / College of New Jersey 
Address:  Department of Biomedical Engineering 
2000 Pennington Rd, P.O. Box 7718 
Ewing , NJ 08618-1104 
Email: LauA@tcnj.edu 
Phone: 609-771-2644  
Congressional District: 12 
Web:  
Organization Type: UNIVERSITY 
Organization Name: College of New Jersey 
Joint Agency:  
Comments: NOTE: As of Fall 2015, Dr. Lau is at The College of New Jersey. Previously at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill while NSBRI postdoc. 
Co-Investigator(s)
Affiliation: 
Bateman, Ted  MENTOR/ University of North Carolina  
Project Information: Grant/Contract No. NCC 9-58-PF03003 
Responsible Center: NSBRI 
Grant Monitor:  
Center Contact:   
Solicitation / Funding Source: 2012 NSBRI-RFA-12-02 Postdoctoral Fellowships 
Grant/Contract No.: NCC 9-58-PF03003 
Project Type: GROUND 
Flight Program:  
TechPort: No 
No. of Post Docs:
No. of PhD Candidates:
No. of Master's Candidates:
No. of Bachelor's Candidates:
No. of PhD Degrees:
No. of Master's Degrees:
No. of Bachelor's Degrees:
Human Research Program Elements: (1) HHC:Human Health Countermeasures
Human Research Program Risks: (1) Fracture:Risk of Bone Fracture due to Spaceflight-induced Changes to Bone (IRP Rev F)
Human Research Program Gaps: (1) Fracture01:We do not understand how the space flight environment affects bone fracture healing in-flight (IRP Rev E)
(2) Fracture02:We need to characterize the loads applied to bone for standard in-mission activities (IRP Rev E)
Flight Assignment/Project Notes: NOTE: End date changed to 10/31/2015 per NSBRI submission (Ed., 12/12/14)

Task Description: POSTDOCTORAL FELLOWSHIP

Original Aims

Aim 1: Further develop the image analysis technology for assessing changes to mouse knee joint soft tissue with microCT, including cartilage, meniscus, ligaments, and tendons.

Aim 2: Assess whole-joint changes in the knee, including bone and soft tissues, from both unloading and reloading using the established hindlimb unloading (HLU) model. This will be accomplished with two studies:

Aim 2a: Study the effects of HLU on integrated joint properties, mimicking the STS-135 Space Shuttle flight profile. Hypothesis: Degradation of bone strength, as assessed by computational finite element analysis (FEA), will be similar to that observed in mice flown on STS-135 (13-days of unloading). Similarly, degradation of meniscus volume and density will also be observed with few changes in tendon and ligaments.

Aim 2b: Study the effects of longer-term unloading followed by reloading on whole-joint structural and functional properties. Hypothesis: Longer periods of unloading cause greater degradation in bone volume and strength, as well as larger changes in the connective soft tissues. There will be limited recovery after 4-weeks of reloading.

Key Findings

Analysis of the proximal tibia from skeletally mature mice flown on SPX-4, Rodent Research-1, found that ~21 days of spaceflight resulted in a decline in trabecular bone volume fraction (-45%) and total bone volume (-20% for combined cortical and trabecular bone) in the proximal tibia. Finite Element modeling of this region found this corresponded to a decline in compressive structural stiffness (-28%) which corresponded to a 12% decline in bone structural efficiency. Separation of the cortical and trabecular bone compartments found the majority of loss in the bone strength was in the cortical compartment. These findings are consistent with those observed from FE Analysis of the mouse proximal tibia from STS-135 as well as the complementary Hind Limb Unloading study, which were both previously reported.

Results from the HLU study had similar overall trends that were observed in spaceflight. One major difference is that while both HLU and spaceflight caused a 17% decline in proximal tibia bone volume, HLU caused a 22% decline in bone strength, compared to the 34% decline from spaceflight.

Impact of Key Findings

The use of skeletally mature mice and having the mice sacrificed while in orbit reduce the confounding factors of reloading as well as skeletal growth of the animal during the study. Thus, the majority of the observed decline in bone can be attributed to the microgravity conditions, with some possible loss due to aging. Even in skeletally mature mice (32 weeks old), the 21 days of spaceflight caused a decline in proximal tibia structural efficiency. Using older mice could better model spaceflight related bone loss in astronauts, as the average astronaut has achieved skeletal maturity. The FE modeling provides a more detailed assessment of bone health compared to the traditional microCT analysis and should be considered in future assessments of bone quality.

Proposed research plan for the coming year

While the post-doctoral fellowship has ended, Dr. Lau is planning on applying the computational techniques developed over the past 3 years in a collaboration with Dr. Jeff Willey at Wake Forest to look at bone strength changes in some of his animal studies.

Research Impact/Earth Benefits: Research Impact: MicroCT and computational modeling provide important information about bone strength changes beyond that of traditional bone density and microCT bone morphometric parameters. These models found that in skeletally mature mice, long duration spaceflight resulted in a decline bone strength which were greater than the bone volume, resulting in a loss of bone structural efficiency.

Earth Benefits: The techniques developed to perform a detailed analysis of bone strength changes in spaceflight are being adapted to study human tissues. The continued development of these techniques will benefit the population on Earth to better study bone strength changes in pathological bone diseases.

Task Progress & Bibliography Information FY2016 
Task Progress: This past year, we performed finite element modeling at the proximal tibia skeletal site for mice undergoing 21-days of spaceflight on SPX-4. Unlike the previous two studies, which used young mice, these were skeletally mature mice, which reduce any confounding effects of the animals still growing during the study. These findings were compared to results from mice flown on Space Shuttle Mission STS-135 for 13 days as well as the parallel HLU study (13-days).

Post-Doctoral Training: In addition to research this past year, I participated in science outreach, undergraduate and graduate student mentoring, and teaching. For community outreach, I was a Judge for the NC Science and Engineering Fair, a presenter at the Creekside Elementary School Science Night, and also participated in our Lab's exhibit booth at the UNC Science Expo. I mentored one graduate student, who was previously my undergraduate research student that graduated and returned to the lab for her PhD. I also mentored 4 undergraduate research students. Two of these were previous research students, who was a Biology Student from Meredith College and the BME Lucas Scholar, who performed her Honor's Thesis Project with me. The first of the new research students was a BME major, who joined the lab in the Fall Semester of 2014. The 2nd research student was a Biology Major from UNC and joined the lab in the Fall semester of 2014. I also took the opportunity to gain additional teaching experience through the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering at UNC. In the Spring of 2015, I was a co-instructor of the biomechanics course with Dr. Ted Bateman. My experimental biomechanics module was about 4 weeks of the course. I have completed my post-doc and am now an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the College of New Jersey.

Bibliography Type: Description: (Last Updated: 03/30/2016)  Show Cumulative Bibliography Listing
 
Articles in Peer-reviewed Journals Lau AG, Kindig MW, Salzar RS, Kent RW. "Micromechanical modeling of calcifying human costal cartilage using the generalized method of cells." Acta Biomaterialia. 2015 May;18:226-35. Epub 2015 Feb 21. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.actbio.2015.02.012 ; PubMed PMID: 25712387 , May-2015
Project Title:  Whole Joint Health: Investigating Modeled Spaceflight Changes in Mice (Postdoctoral Fellowship) Reduce
Fiscal Year: FY 2015 
Division: Human Research 
Research Discipline/Element:
HRP HHC:Human Health Countermeasures
Start Date: 11/01/2012  
End Date: 10/31/2015  
Task Last Updated: 12/12/2014 
Download report in PDF pdf
Principal Investigator/Affiliation:   Lau, Anthony G Ph.D. / College of New Jersey 
Address:  Department of Biomedical Engineering 
2000 Pennington Rd, P.O. Box 7718 
Ewing , NJ 08618-1104 
Email: LauA@tcnj.edu 
Phone: 609-771-2644  
Congressional District: 12 
Web:  
Organization Type: UNIVERSITY 
Organization Name: College of New Jersey 
Joint Agency:  
Comments: NOTE: As of Fall 2015, Dr. Lau is at The College of New Jersey. Previously at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill while NSBRI postdoc. 
Co-Investigator(s)
Affiliation: 
Bateman, Ted  Ph.D. MENTOR/ University of North Carolina 
Project Information: Grant/Contract No. NCC 9-58-PF03003 
Responsible Center: NSBRI 
Grant Monitor:  
Center Contact:   
Solicitation / Funding Source: 2012 NSBRI-RFA-12-02 Postdoctoral Fellowships 
Grant/Contract No.: NCC 9-58-PF03003 
Project Type: GROUND 
Flight Program:  
TechPort: No 
No. of Post Docs:
No. of PhD Candidates:
No. of Master's Candidates:
No. of Bachelor's Candidates:
No. of PhD Degrees:
No. of Master's Degrees:
No. of Bachelor's Degrees:
Human Research Program Elements: (1) HHC:Human Health Countermeasures
Human Research Program Risks: (1) Fracture:Risk of Bone Fracture due to Spaceflight-induced Changes to Bone (IRP Rev F)
Human Research Program Gaps: (1) Fracture01:We do not understand how the space flight environment affects bone fracture healing in-flight (IRP Rev E)
(2) Fracture02:We need to characterize the loads applied to bone for standard in-mission activities (IRP Rev E)
Flight Assignment/Project Notes: NOTE: End date changed to 10/31/2015 per NSBRI submission (Ed., 12/12/14)

Task Description: POSTDOCTORAL FELLOWSHIP

Original Aims

Aim 1: Further develop the image analysis technology for assessing changes to mouse knee joint soft tissue with microCT, including cartilage, meniscus, ligaments, and tendons.

Aim 2: Assess whole-joint changes in the knee, including bone and soft tissues, from both unloading and reloading using the established hindlimb unloading (HLU) model. This will be accomplished with two studies:

Aim 2a: Study the effects of hindlimb unloading (HLU) on integrated joint properties, mimicking the STS-135 Space Shuttle flight profile. Hypothesis: Degradation of bone strength, as assessed by computational finite element analysis (FEA), will be similar to that observed in mice flown on STS-135 (13-days of unloading). Similarly, degradation of meniscus volume and density will also be observed with few changes in tendon and ligaments.

Aim 2b: Study the effects of longer-term unloading followed by reloading on whole-joint structural and functional properties. Hypothesis: Longer periods of unloading cause greater degradation in bone volume and strength, as well as larger changes in the connective soft tissues. There will be limited recovery after 4-weeks of reloading.

Key Findings

STS-135 Data Results from the HLU study had similar overall trends that were observed in spaceflight. One major difference is that while both HLU and spaceflight caused a 17% decline in proximal tibia bone volume, HLU caused a 22% decline in bone strength, compared to the 34% decline from spaceflight.

Impact of Key Findings

FEA of the proximal femur suggest that we reconsider the boundary conditions used in the mechanical testing of femoral neck strength for future studies. Mechanical loading of the femoral head must consider the lower density bone regions of the femoral head when attempting to characterize the strength of the femoral neck. The findings from FEA of the Lumbar vertebrae shed some insight to the difference gravitational unloading has between weight bearing (femur, tibia) and the non-weight bearing L5 vertebrae. Further investigation should consider the differences in bone morphology and how that affects the individual bone's relationship between bone volume, structure, and bone stiffness. The comparison between the spaceflight and HLU study suggests that the established HLU animal model may not be a good representation of the loss of bone strength experienced during spaceflight. The HLU model does not result in the same decline in bone structural efficiency observed in spaceflight, which is hypothesized to be an indicator of the ability to recover upon reloading. Therefore, we have decided not to move forward with a longer duration HLU study, but analyze bone changes from spaceflight on mice flown on SpaceX-4. The FE modeling provides a more detailed assessment of bone health compared to the traditional microCT analysis and should be considered in future assessments of bone quality. The finding of bone loss and identification of rapid joint soft-tissue mineralization has implications to osteoarthritic degradation following joint injury and inflammation.

Proposed research plan for the coming year

Over the past two years, I have developed a framework that provides new detailed information about bone health at multiple skeletal sites. The unique changes caused by spaceflight in bone structural efficiency are an area for future research. In collaboration with CASIS (Center for the Advancement of Science in Space) and the pharmaceutical company Novartis, Dr. Bateman's Lab will receive hind limbs and animal carcasses from the Rodent Research-1 project flown on the SpaceX-4 flight. This will be the first study to fly mice for the longer duration of 30 days. This will be an excellent opportunity to use all the developed assays to look at skeletal degeneration from longer term spaceflight. In addition to microstructural bone strength analysis with FE modeling, we plan on investigating changes of bone material properties at the tissue level from the longer exposure to microgravity with micro/nano indentation.

Research Impact/Earth Benefits: The microCT and computational modeling provide important information about bone strength changes in the femoral neck and proximal tibia in the Hind Limb Unloading (HLU) mouse animal model. The differences in skeletal changes between the HLU model and spaceflight should be considered for future studies. Both spaceflight and HLU caused similar declines in bone volume, but different declines in bone strength and structural efficiency. The comparison between these two studies shows the deficiency in our current clinical assessments of bone health, which only measures bone density (or bone volume). The computational methods developed in these studies can be translated to assess humans as non-invasive clinical imaging improves. Developing these relationships between bone density and corresponding bone strength in the HLU model can provide information to help studies of humans on Earth undergoing disuse, such as during bed rest.

Task Progress & Bibliography Information FY2015 
Task Progress: This past year, we performed finite element modeling at the proximal tibia and femoral neck skeletal sites for mice undergoing 13-days of hind limb unloading (HLU), and evaluated the performance of a sclerostin-antibody countermeasure in this disuse model. These findings were compared to results from mice flown on Space Shuttle Mission STS-135 for 13 days, which also had a sclerostin-antibody countermeasure. Major differences between HLU and spaceflight were seen at the proximal tibia location. Both 13-days of HLU and spaceflight caused a similar decline in bone volume. However, Spaceflight caused a greater loss of bone strength compared to HLU. In addition, spaceflight caused a much larger decline in bone structural efficiency compared to HLU.

Post-Doctoral Training: In addition to research this past year, I participated in the science outreach, undergraduate student mentoring, and teaching. For community outreach, I led and coordinated our lab's research exhibit at UNC's (University of North Carolina) Science Expo during the North Carolina Science Festival. This year, we developed a Space Radiation Game Exhibit where children could play a game throwing BBs at a toy astronaut and mouse in space and learn about the dangers of space radiation. I also mentored three undergraduate research students over the past year. The first was an undergraduate BME (Biomedical Engineering) student from UNC who worked with me during the spring and summer on a research project. She graduated and returned to the lab as a graduate student for the fall. The second student worked in our lab during the summer through the Meredith Cooperative Research Program. For this program, I submitted a project proposal which was selected and matched to a student from Meredith College. The purpose of this program is to allow their students, who are at a small, womens teaching university, to participate in research at a larger institution. This was the same student from last year, who continued to work in the lab during the academic year, and returned to the lab in the summer full time. The 3rd student is one of the BME department's Lucas Scholars, who joined the lab in the fall of 2013 and worked in the lab during the spring, summer, and fall of 2014. I have also taken the opportunity to gain teaching experience at the undergraduate and graduate level this past year through the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering at UNC. In the spring, I was a co-instructor for the biomechanics course with Dr. Ted Bateman at UNC Chapel Hill and expanded my experimental biomechanics module to teach about 4 weeks of the course.

Bibliography Type: Description: (Last Updated: 03/30/2016)  Show Cumulative Bibliography Listing
 
Articles in Peer-reviewed Journals Lau AG, Sun J, Hannah WB, Livingston EW, Heymann D, Bateman TA, Monahan PE. "Joint bleeding in factor VIII deficient mice causes an acute loss of trabecular bone and calcification of joint soft tissues which is prevented with aggressive factor replacement." Haemophilia. 2014 Sep;20(5):716-22. Epub 2014 Apr 8. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/hae.12399 ; PubMed PMID: 24712867 , Sep-2014
Awards Lau A. "American Society for Bone and Mineral Research: Harold M. Frost Young Investigator Award, August 2014." Aug-2014
Awards Lau A. "National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) Dr. David Watson Post-Doctoral Fellow Poster Award: Best Poster, February 2014." Feb-2014
Awards Lau A. "University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill: Postdoctoral Award for Research Excellence, November 2014." Nov-2014
Awards Lau A. "University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill: Postdoctoral Scholar Award for Excellence in Mentoring, November 2014." Nov-2014
Project Title:  Whole Joint Health: Investigating Modeled Spaceflight Changes in Mice (Postdoctoral Fellowship) Reduce
Fiscal Year: FY 2014 
Division: Human Research 
Research Discipline/Element:
HRP HHC:Human Health Countermeasures
Start Date: 11/01/2012  
End Date: 10/31/2014  
Task Last Updated: 12/24/2013 
Download report in PDF pdf
Principal Investigator/Affiliation:   Lau, Anthony G Ph.D. / College of New Jersey 
Address:  Department of Biomedical Engineering 
2000 Pennington Rd, P.O. Box 7718 
Ewing , NJ 08618-1104 
Email: LauA@tcnj.edu 
Phone: 609-771-2644  
Congressional District: 12 
Web:  
Organization Type: UNIVERSITY 
Organization Name: College of New Jersey 
Joint Agency:  
Comments: NOTE: As of Fall 2015, Dr. Lau is at The College of New Jersey. Previously at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill while NSBRI postdoc. 
Co-Investigator(s)
Affiliation: 
Bateman, Ted  MENTOR/ University of North Carolina 
Project Information: Grant/Contract No. NCC 9-58-PF03003 
Responsible Center: NSBRI 
Grant Monitor:  
Center Contact:   
Solicitation / Funding Source: 2012 NSBRI-RFA-12-02 Postdoctoral Fellowships 
Grant/Contract No.: NCC 9-58-PF03003 
Project Type: GROUND 
Flight Program:  
TechPort: No 
No. of Post Docs:
No. of PhD Candidates:
No. of Master's Candidates:
No. of Bachelor's Candidates:
No. of PhD Degrees:
No. of Master's Degrees:
No. of Bachelor's Degrees:
Human Research Program Elements: (1) HHC:Human Health Countermeasures
Human Research Program Risks: (1) Fracture:Risk of Bone Fracture due to Spaceflight-induced Changes to Bone (IRP Rev F)
Human Research Program Gaps: (1) Fracture01:We do not understand how the space flight environment affects bone fracture healing in-flight (IRP Rev E)
(2) Fracture02:We need to characterize the loads applied to bone for standard in-mission activities (IRP Rev E)
Task Description: POSTDOCTORAL FELLOWSHIP

(1) Original Aims

Aim 1: Further develop the image analysis technology for assessing changes to mouse knee joint soft tissue with microCT, including cartilage, meniscus, ligaments, and tendons.

Aim 2: Assess whole-joint changes in the knee, including bone and soft tissues, from both unloading and reloading using the established HLU model. This will be accomplished with two studies:

Aim 2a: Study the effects of hindlimb unloading on integrated joint properties, mimicking the STS-135 Space Shuttle flight profile. Hypothesis: Degradation of bone strength, as assessed by computational FEA, will be similar to that observed in mice flown on STS-135 (13-days of unloading). Similarly, degradation of meniscus volume and density will also be observed with few changes in tendon and ligaments.

Aim 2b: Study the effects of longer-term unloading followed by reloading on whole-joint structural and functional properties. Hypothesis: Longer periods of unloading cause greater degradation in bone volume and strength, as well as larger changes in the connective soft tissues. There will be limited recovery after 4-weeks of reloading.

(2) Key Findings

The development of the computational methods were performed on the bone tissues from mice flown on STS-135 and to investigate changes in the knee joint of hemophilic mice. FEA of the Proximal Femur of the STS-135 mice found significant reduction in femoral neck stiffness (-12%), which was prevented from sclerostin anti-body treatment. FEA of the Lumbar Vertebrae (L5) of the STS-135 mice found a significant reduction in L5 compressive stiffness (-20%) and a -4% reduction in bone structural efficiency (stiffness/amount of bone). In addition, in the non-loading L5 vertebrae, bone volume was an excellent indicator of bone stiffness using linear regression (P<0.01, R2=0.992) across all specimens. Imaging analysis of the knee joint in hemophilic mice found significant loss of bone in the proximal tibia and mineralization of the joint soft tissues (tendons, ligaments, menisci, cartilage) 2-weeks after induced joint bleeding.

(3) Impact of Key Findings

The findings from FEA of the proximal femur suggest that we reconsider the boundary conditions used in the mechanical testing of femoral neck strength for future studies. Mechanical loading of the femoral head must consider the lower density bone regions of the femoral head when attempting to characterize the strength of the femoral neck. The findings from FEA of the Lumbar vertebrae shed some insight to the difference gravitational unloading has between weight bearing (femur, tibia) and the non-weight bearing L5 vertebrae. Further investigation should consider the differences in bone morphology and how that affects the individual bone's relationship between bone volume, structure, and bone stiffness. The finding of bone loss and identification of rapid joint soft-tissue mineralization has implications to osteoarthritic degradation following joint injury and inflammation.

(4) Proposed research plan

In the coming year, we propose to use the analytical methods developed over the past year to analyze tissue samples from a study using hind limb unloading (HLU), modeling the STS-135 experiment profile of disuse, in mice already performed by Mary Bouxien's group at Harvard. In addition, the information gained from the Harvard study will help guide our 13-day HLU and 4-week HLU with reloading studies. In collaboration with CASIS and the pharmaceutical company Novartis, our lab plans to launch mice on SpaceX-4, which will be an excellent opportunity to use all the developed assays to look at skeletal and joint degeneration from longer term spaceflight. Mice will be exposed to at least 21 days of microgravity, with planning in progress for 60-day exposure on SpaceX-6. The microCT analysis to obtain bone morphometry, bone strength through FEA, and soft tissue properties will continually be refined as we apply them to the studies.

Research Impact/Earth Benefits: In addition to providing information about functional changes in bone strength and joint degradation, the computational methods developed provide a framework for analysis of human CT Scans. These microCT methods provide important information about bone strength for the femoral neck and lumbar vertebrae, which are both clinically relevant sites. A better understanding of the relationship between bone volume and density to bone strength in these regions is important as most clinical tests (DXA scans) can only measure bone volumetric density. The findings of rapid bone loss and mineralization of joint soft tissues in hemophilic mice not only benefit patients with hemophilia, but also have implications to people with osteoarthritis. In addition, these findings give a better understanding of joint degradation following injury resulting from injury and inflammation. The hemophilic mouse model, which creates an environment that can rapidly mineralize joint tissues, serves as a platform for studying the initiation of osteoarthritic degradation after injury as well as its application to regenerative medicine for growing bone from soft connective tissues.

Task Progress & Bibliography Information FY2014 
Task Progress: Research highlights for this first year include:

Developed methodology for assessing femoral neck stiffness using Finite Element Analysis and employed methodology for mice flown on STS-135. Results from Finite Element Analysis followed trend of the corresponding mechanical testing of the femoral neck, which makes this computational method a possible alternative to the complex mechanical testing to test the femoral neck.

Developed methodology for assessing compressive stiffness of the L5 lumbar vertebrae using Finite Element Analysis. Discovered that the non-weight bearing L5 vertebrae responded much differently to spaceflight and sclerostin antibody treatment than the weight bearing proximal tibia. In addition, the bone volume and bone stiffness had a very linear correlation in the L5 vertebrae, regardless of the exposure to spaceflight or sclerostin antibody, which was not the case in the proximal tibia.

Methods for imaging of the mouse knee with microCT were applied to a study looking at joint degradation in hemophilic mice. The finding of acute bone loss and mineralization of joint soft tissues from joint bleeding has many implications to osteoarthritic degradation.

Post-Doctoral Training: In addition to research this past year, I participated in the science outreach and undergraduate student mentoring. For community outreach, I created and presented a Bone and Space exhibition for 3rd grade science students at a rural elementary school. In the spring, I led and coordinated our lab's research exhibit at UNC's Science Expo during North Carolina's Science Festival. This summer, I served as a Mentor for lab shadowing for UNC's Summer High School Apprenticeship Program. I also mentored two undergraduate research students over the past year. The first was an undergraduate BME student from UNC who worked with me during the spring and summer on a research project, and is on in the fall and spring semesters for her senior thesis. The second student worked in our lab during the summer through the Meredith Cooperative Research Program. For this program, I submitted a project proposal which was selected and matched to a student from Meredith College. The purpose of this program is to allow their students, who are at a small, all-girls teaching university, to participate in research at a larger institution. This student is continuing to work in our lab in the fall and spring semesters for research credit. I have also taken the opportunity to gain teaching experience at the undergraduate and graduate level this past year through the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering at UNC and NC State. In the spring, I was a co-instructor for the biomechanics course with Dr. Ted Bateman at UNC Chapel Hill and taught a 3-week module on experimental biomechanics. This fall, I am a co-instructor with Dr. Peter Mente for his Biomechanics course over at NC State.

Bibliography Type: Description: (Last Updated: 03/30/2016)  Show Cumulative Bibliography Listing
 
Awards Lau AG. (Anthony G. Lau) "National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) Dr. David Watson Post-doctoral Fellow Poster Award (Runner-up), February 2013." Feb-2013
Project Title:  Whole Joint Health: Investigating Modeled Spaceflight Changes in Mice (Postdoctoral Fellowship) Reduce
Fiscal Year: FY 2013 
Division: Human Research 
Research Discipline/Element:
HRP HHC:Human Health Countermeasures
Start Date: 11/01/2012  
End Date: 10/31/2014  
Task Last Updated: 10/23/2012 
Download report in PDF pdf
Principal Investigator/Affiliation:   Lau, Anthony G Ph.D. / College of New Jersey 
Address:  Department of Biomedical Engineering 
2000 Pennington Rd, P.O. Box 7718 
Ewing , NJ 08618-1104 
Email: LauA@tcnj.edu 
Phone: 609-771-2644  
Congressional District: 12 
Web:  
Organization Type: UNIVERSITY 
Organization Name: College of New Jersey 
Joint Agency:  
Comments: NOTE: As of Fall 2015, Dr. Lau is at The College of New Jersey. Previously at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill while NSBRI postdoc. 
Co-Investigator(s)
Affiliation: 
Bateman, Ted  MENTOR/ University of North Carolina 
Project Information: Grant/Contract No. NCC 9-58-PF03003 
Responsible Center: NSBRI 
Grant Monitor:  
Center Contact:   
Solicitation / Funding Source: 2012 NSBRI-RFA-12-02 Postdoctoral Fellowships 
Grant/Contract No.: NCC 9-58-PF03003 
Project Type: GROUND 
Flight Program:  
TechPort: No 
No. of Post Docs:
No. of PhD Candidates:  
No. of Master's Candidates:  
No. of Bachelor's Candidates:  
No. of PhD Degrees:  
No. of Master's Degrees:  
No. of Bachelor's Degrees:  
Human Research Program Elements: (1) HHC:Human Health Countermeasures
Human Research Program Risks: (1) Fracture:Risk of Bone Fracture due to Spaceflight-induced Changes to Bone (IRP Rev F)
Human Research Program Gaps: (1) Fracture01:We do not understand how the space flight environment affects bone fracture healing in-flight (IRP Rev E)
(2) Fracture02:We need to characterize the loads applied to bone for standard in-mission activities (IRP Rev E)
Task Description: POSTDOCTORAL FELLOWSHIP

During extended spaceflight missions, astronauts are exposed to a microgravity environment. The disuse from unloading of the musculoskeletal system results in bone loss and could also degrade the soft connective tissues (i.e. cartilage, meniscus, ligaments), which are critical to the proper functionality of the joint. Degradation of the soft tissues is important because it leads to laxity and joint instability, which when combined with loss of bone strength, could amplify the risk of bone fracture and joint injury. The increased fracture and injury risks in astronauts could compromise a mission and hinder recovery upon returning to Earth.

One established animal model for simulating and studying the effects of microgravity is hindlimb unloading (HLU) in mice. While changes in the bone have been studied in this model, quantitative assessment of soft tissues is difficult due to limitations in spatial resolution of MRI imaging. In addition, how this bone loss translates to loss of functional bone strength is not known. Our lab has developed and is continually refining a new technique to image soft tissues with high resolution microCT, which enables quantitative analysis of bone and soft tissues in the mouse knee.

The proposed research investigates changes in the bone and soft tissues of the knee joint through these specific aims: Aim 1: Develop technology for imaging soft tissues of the knee using microCT. Aim 2: Assess the joint damage resulting from HLU and recovery upon reloading.

The expected outcomes from this research provide a better understanding of how joint tissues degrade and recover from long-term exposure to microgravity. In addition, the newly developed ability to quantitatively image the soft tissues of the mouse knee enables the HLU model to be a valuable tool for development of countermeasures that protect both the bone and soft tissues against microgravity.

Research Impact/Earth Benefits: 0

Task Progress & Bibliography Information FY2013 
Task Progress: New project for FY2013.

Bibliography Type: Description: (Last Updated: 03/30/2016)  Show Cumulative Bibliography Listing
 
 None in FY 2013