Hypergravity disruption of homeorhetic adaptations to lactation in rat dams include changes in circadian clocks
We studied the effects of 2G hypergravity on the survival, body mass and growth of postnatal rats (Rattus norvegicus). Nursing litters comprised of either neonatal (Postnatal day [P]7) or pre-weanling (P14) rats and their mothers were exposed to 16 days of continuous centrifugation. All of the offspring survived and gained body mass, indicating that mothers nursed their young. Following the onset of centrifugation, neonatal and pre-weanling rats showed a reduction in growth relative to age-matched environmental controls (EC). At the completion of testing, body mass of the hypergravity (HG) groups was significantly less than that of controls (p<0.05). Over the course of the test, the HG-exposed P7 group showed an overall 55% gain in body mass as compared to a 71% increase in controls, while the HG-exposed P14 group showed a 62% increase relative to 75% in controls. Neonatal offspring (P7) gained body mass during centrifugation, but at significantly slower rates as compared to EC controls (p<0.05). In contrast, growth rates of pre-weanling (P14) rats were not reduced relative to controls, possibly related to the initiation of weaning, around P18 in the rat. These findings raise key issues relevant to studies of nursing mammals reared in altered gravity.