Chick precardiac tissue explants were cultured on the 8-day mission of STS-60, space shuttle Discovery. Development of in vitro cultures of precardiac chick tissue from embryo stages 5 through 8 (H-H) were initiated during orbit and were terminated after approximately fifteen hours of 37 °C culture. Transmission electron microscopy and tritiated thymidine studies were performed postflight. No significant differences in cell proliferation were observed between flight and ground controls. Electron-microscopic studies revealed stage 8 explants were capable of differentiation during flight in a pattern which matched ground control tissues. As anticipated, stage 7 explant tissues had differentiated to a lesser extent compared to stage 8 tissues. Interestingly, stage 7 precardiac explant flight tissue differentiation was less than ground control tissue. This difference in differentiation between flight and ground cultures was enhanced in stage 6 tissues, as high levels of myofibril organization were only seen in ground controls. Other cellular components such as Golgi apparatus, junctional complexes, and mitochondria were present and appeared normal and healthy.

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