Microgravity impairs tissue organization and critical pathways involved in the cell– microenvironment interplay, where fibroblasts have a critical role. We exposed dermal fibroblasts to simulated microgravity by means of a Random Positioning Machine (RPM), a device that reproduces conditions of weightlessness. Molecular and structural changes were analyzed and compared to control samples growing in a normal gravity field. Simulated microgravity impairs fibroblast conversion into myofibroblast and inhibits their migratory properties. Consequently, the normal interplay between fibroblasts and keratinocytes were remarkably altered in 3D co-culture experiments, giving rise to several ultra-structural abnormalities. Such phenotypic changes are associated with down-regulation of α-SMA that translocate in the nucleoplasm, altogether with the concomitant modification of the actin-vinculin apparatus. Noticeably, the stress associated with weightlessness induced oxidative damage, which seemed to concur with such modifications. These findings disclose new opportunities to establish antioxidant strategies that counteract the microgravity-induced disruptive effects on fibroblasts and tissue organization.
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