Magnetic levitation of MC3T3 osteoblast cells as a ground-based simulation of microgravity

Bruce E. Hammer, Louis S. Kidder, Philip C. Williams, Wayne Wenzhong Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Diamagnetic samples placed in a strong magnetic field and a magnetic field gradient experience a magnetic force. Stable magnetic levitation occurs when the magnetic force exactly counter balances the gravitational force. Under this condition, a diamagnetic sample is in a simulated microgravity environment. The purpose of this study is to explore if MC3T3-E1 osteoblastic cells can be grown in magnetically simulated hypo-g and hyper-g environments and determine if gene expression is differentially expressed under these conditions. The murine calvarial osteoblastic cell line, MC3T3-E1, grown on Cytodex-3 beads, were subjected to a net gravitational force of 0, 1 and 2 g in a 17 T superconducting magnet for 2 days. Microarray analysis of these cells indicated that gravitational stress leads to up and down regulation of hundreds of genes. The methodology of sustaining long-term magnetic levitation of biological systems are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)311-318
Number of pages8
JournalMicrogravity Science and Technology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements The authors gratefully acknowledge support of this research through NIH grants 1R21EB003947 and 1S10RR16783-01, and the computational resources from Supercomputing Institute for Advanced Computational Research of the University of Minnesota.


  • MC3T3
  • Magnetic levitation
  • Microgravity
  • Osteoblastic cell


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