Microgravity induces alterations in the function- ing of immune cell; however, the underlying mechanisms have not yet been identified. In this study, hemocytes (blood cells) of the blue mussel Mytilus edulis were investigated under altered gravity conditions. The study was conducted on the ground in preparation for the BIOLAB TripleLux- B experiment, which will be performed on the International Space Station (ISS). On-line kinetic measurements of reac- tive oxygen species (ROS) production during the oxidative burst and thus cellular activity of isolated hemocytes were performed in a photomultiplier (PMT)-clinostat (simulated microgravity) and in the 1g operation mode of the clino- stat in hypergravity on the Short-Arm Human Centrifuge (SAHC) as well as during parabolic flights. In addition to studies with isolated hemocytes, the effect of altered gravity conditions on whole animals was investigated. For this pur- pose, whole mussels were exposed to hypergravity (1.8 g) on a multi-sample incubator centrifuge (MuSIC) or to simu- lated microgravity in a submersed clinostat. After exposure for 48 h, hemocytes were taken from the mussels and ROS production was measured under 1 g conditions. The results from the parabolic flights and clinostat studies indicate that mussel hemocytes respond to altered gravity in a fast and reversible manner. Hemocytes (after cryo-conservation)exposed to simulated microgravity (μ g), as well as fresh hemocytes from clinorotated animals, showed a decrease in ROS production. Measurements during a permanent exposure of hemocytes to hypergravity (SAHC) show a decrease in ROS production. Hemocytes of mussels mea- sured after the centrifugation of whole mussels did not show an influence to the ROS response at all. Hypergravity dur- ing parabolic flights led to a decrease but also to an increase in ROS production in isolated hemocytes, whereas the cen- trifugation of whole mussels did not influence the ROS response at all. This study is a good example how ground- based facility experiments can be used to prepare for an upcoming ISS experiment, in this case the TRIPLE LUX B experiment.
Research Containing: Microgravity
This paper describes the activities for utilization and control of ELITE S2 on board the International Space Station (ISS). ELITE S2 is a payload of the Italian Space Agency (ASI) for quantitative human movement analysis in weightlessness. Within the frame of a bilateral agreement with NASA, ASI has funded a number of facilities, enabling different scientific experiments on board the ISS. ELITE S2 has been developed by the ASI contractor Kayser Italia, delivered to the Kennedy Space Center in 2006 for pre-flight processing, launched in 2007 by the Space Shuttle Endeavour (STS-118), integrated in the U.S. lab and used during the Increments 16 and 17 through 2008. The ELITE S2 flight segment comprises equipment mounted into an Express Rack and a number of stowed items to be deployed for experiment performance (video cameras and accessories). The ground segment consists in a User Support Operations Center (based at Kayser Italia) enabling real-time payload control and a number of User Home Bases (located at the ASI and PIs premises), for the scientific assessment of the experiment performance. Two scientific protocols on reaching and cognitive processing have been successfully performed in five sessions involving two ISS crewmembers: IMAGINE 2 and MOVE.
Space biology provides an opportunity to study plant physiology and development in a unique microgravity environment. Recent space studies with plants have provided interesting insights into plant biology, including discovering that plants can grow seed-to-seed in microgravity, as well as identifying novel responses to light. However, spaceflight experiments are not without their challenges, including limited space, limited access, and stressors such as lack of convection and cosmic radiation. Therefore, it is important to design experiments in a way to maximize the scientific return from research conducted on orbiting platforms such as the International Space Station. Here, we provide a critical review of recent spaceflight experiments and suggest ways in which future experiments can be designed to improve the value and applicability of the results generated. These potential improvements include: utilizing in-flight controls to delineate microgravity versus other spaceflight effects, increasing scientific return via next-generation sequencing technologies, and utilizing multiple genotypes to ensure results are not unique to one genetic background. Space experiments have given us new insights into plant biology. However, to move forward, special care should be given to maximize science return in understanding both microgravity itself as well as the combinatorial effects of living in space.
Due to spaceflight, astronauts experience serious, weightlessness-induced bone loss because of an unbalanced process of bone remodeling that involves bone marrow mes- enchymal stem cells (BMSCs), as well as osteoblasts, osteo- cytes, and osteoclasts. The effects of microgravity on osteo- cells have been extensively studied, but it is only recently that consideration has been given to the role of BMSCs. Pre- vious researches indicated that human BMSCs cultured in simulated microgravity (sim-μg) alter their proliferation and differentiation. The spaceflight opportunities for biomedical experiments are rare and suffer from a number of opera- tive constraints that could bias the validity of the experiment itself, but remain a unique opportunity to confirm and explain the effects due to microgravity, that are only par- tially activated/detectable in simulated conditions. For this reason, we carefully prepared the SCD – STEM CELLS DIFFERENTIATION experiment, selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) and now on the International Space Station (ISS). Here we present the preparatory studies per- formed on ground to adapt the project to the spaceflight constraints in terms of culture conditions, fixation and stor- age of human BMSCs in space aiming at satisfying the biological requirements mandatory to retrieve suitable sam- ples for post-flight analyses. We expect to understand better the molecular mechanisms governing human BMSC growth and differentiation hoping to outline new countermeasures against astronaut bone loss.
Bone loss and renal stone risk are longstanding concerns for astronauts. Bone resorption brought on by spaceflight elevates urinary calcium and the risk of renal stone formation. Loss of bone calcium leads to concerns about fracture risk and increased long-term risk of osteoporosis. Bone metabolism involves many factors and is interconnected with muscle metabolism and diet. We report here bone biochemistry and renal stone risk data from astronauts on 4- to 6-month International Space Station missions. All had access to a type of resistive exercise countermeasure hardware, either the Advanced Resistance Exercise Device (ARED) or the Interim Resistance Exercise Device (iRED). A subset of the ARED group also tested the bisphosphonate alendronate as a potential anti-resorptive countermeasure (Bis+ARED). While some of the basic bone marker data have been published, we provide here a more comprehensive evaluation of bone biochemistry with a larger group of astronauts. Regardless of exercise, the risk of renal stone formation increased during spaceflight. A key factor in this increase was urine volume, which was lower during flight in all groups at all time points. Thus, the easiest way to mitigate renal stone risk is to increase fluid consumption. ARED use increased bone formation without changing bone resorption, and mitigated a drop in parathyroid hormone in iRED astronauts. Sclerostin, an osteocyte-derived negative regulator of bone formation, increased 10-15% in both groups of astronauts who used the ARED (p<0.06). IGF-1, which regulates bone growth and formation, increased during flight in all 3 groups (p<0.001). Our results are consistent with the growing body of literature showing that the hyper-resorptive state of bone that is brought on by spaceflight can be countered pharmacologically or mitigated through an exercise-induced increase in bone formation, with nutritional support. Key questions remain about the effect of exercise-induced alterations in bone metabolism on bone strength and fracture risk.
Magnesium is an essential nutrient for muscle, cardiovascular, and bone health on Earth, and during space flight. We sought to evaluate magnesium status in 43 astronauts (34 male, 9 female; 47 +/- 5 years old, mean +/- SD) before, during, and after 4-6-month space missions. We also studied individuals participating in a ground analog of space flight (head-down-tilt bed rest; n = 27 (17 male, 10 female), 35 +/- 7 years old). We evaluated serum concentration and 24-h urinary excretion of magnesium, along with estimates of tissue magnesium status from sublingual cells. Serum magnesium increased late in flight, while urinary magnesium excretion was higher over the course of 180-day space missions. Urinary magnesium increased during flight but decreased significantly at landing. Neither serum nor urinary magnesium changed during bed rest. For flight and bed rest, significant correlations existed between the area under the curve of serum and urinary magnesium and the change in total body bone mineral content. Tissue magnesium concentration was unchanged after flight and bed rest. Increased excretion of magnesium is likely partially from bone and partially from diet, but importantly, it does not come at the expense of muscle tissue stores. While further study is needed to better understand the implications of these findings for longer space exploration missions, magnesium homeostasis and tissue status seem well maintained during 4-6-month space missions.
Cerium oxide (CeO2) was prepared using a controlled-precipitation method under microgravity at the International Space Station (ISS). For comparison, ceria was also synthesized under normal-gravity conditions (referred as control). The Brunauer-Emmett-Teller (BET) surface area, pore volume and pore size analysis results indicated that the ceria particles grown in space had lower surface area and pore volume compared to the control samples. Furthermore, the space samples had a broader pore size distribution ranging from 30–600 Å, whereas the control samples consisted of pore sizes from 30–50 Å range. Structural information of the ceria particles were obtained using TEM and XRD. Based on the TEM images, it was confirmed that the space samples were predominantly nano-rods, on the other hand, only nano-polyhedra particles were seen in the control ceria samples. The average particle size was larger for ceria samples synthesized in space. XRD results showed higher crystallinity as well as larger mean crystal size for the space samples. The effect of sodium hydroxide concentration on synthesis of ceria was also examined using 1 M and 3 M solutions. It was found that the control samples, prepared in 1 M and 3 M sodium hydroxide solutions, did not show a significant difference between the two. However, when the ceria samples were prepared in a more basic medium (3 M) under microgravity, a decrease in the particle size of the nano-rods and appearances of nano-polyhedra and spheres were observed.
Comprehensive analysis of the skin fungal microbiota of astronauts during a half-year stay at the International Space Station
The International Space Station (ISS) is a huge manned construct located approximately 400 km above the earth and is inhabited by astronauts performing space experiments. Because the station is within a closed microgravity environment, the astronauts are subject to consistent stress. This study analyzed the temporal changes in the skin fungal microbiota of 10 astronauts using pyrosequencing and quantitative PCR assay before, during, and after their stay in the ISS. Lipophilic skin fungi, Malassezia predominated most samples regardless of the collection period, body site (cheek or chest), or subject. During their stay in the ISS, the level of Malassezia colonization changed by 7.6- +/- 7.5-fold (mean +/- standard deviation) and 9.5- +/- 24.2-fold in cheek and chest samples, respectively. At the species level, M. restricta, M. globosa, and M. sympodialis were more abundant. In the chest samples, the ratio of M. restricta to all Malassezia species increased, whereas it did not change considerably in cheek samples. Fungal diversity was reduced, and the ratio of Malassezia to all fungal colonization increased during the astronauts’ stay at the ISS. The ascomycetous yeast Cyberlindnera jadinii was detected in abundance in the in-flight sample of 5 of the 10 astronauts. The microorganism may have incidentally adhered to the skin during the preflight period and persisted on the skin thereafter. This observation suggests the ability of a specific or uncommon microorganism to proliferate in a closed environment. Our study is the first to reveal temporal changes in the skin fungal microbiota of ISS astronauts. These findings will provide information useful for maintaining the health of astronauts staying in the space environment for long periods and for preventing infection due to the human skin microbiota.
First Direct Observation of Impurity Effects on the Growth Rate of Tetragonal Lysozyme Crystals under Microgravity as Measured by Interferometry
The normal growth rates R and apparent step velocities (lateral growth rates of a spiral hillock) V of tetragonal hen egg-white lysozyme (HEWL) crystals were for the first time measured by Michelson interferometry in the international space station (as part of the NanoStep project) using commercialized HEWL samples containing 1.5% impurities. A significant increase in V under microgravity was confirmed compared to step velocities Vstep on the ground, while a decrease in R was also confirmed compared to that in the purified solution under microgravity as expected. Because of exact measurement of growth rates, kinetic analyses of R were conducted as a function of supersaturation, σ (σ ≡ ln(C/Ce), where C is the concentration; Ce is the solubility), using a spiral growth model and a two-dimensional (2D) nucleation growth model. For both models over a wide range of σ, R in the impure solution was significantly lower than that in the purified solution. The degree of the suppression of impurity effects was also evaluated using the difference in Vp and Vi, where Vp is the apparent step velocity in the purified solution, and Vi is that in the impure solution. The difference between Vp and Vi was smaller than the difference in step velocities on the ground, Vstep,p and Vstep,i, where Vstep,p is the step velocity in the purified solution, and Vstep,i is the step velocity in the impure solution.
Expression of p53-Regulated Proteins in Human Cultured Lymphoblastoid TSCE5 and WTK1 Cell Lines during Spaceflight
The aim of this study was to determine the biological effects of space radiations, microgravity, and the interaction of them on the expression of p53-regulated proteins. Space experiments were performed with two human cultured lymphoblastoid cell lines: one line (TSCE5) bears a wild-type p53 gene status, and another line (WTK1) bears a mutated p53 gene status. Under 1 gravity or microgravity conditions, the cells were grown in the cell biology experimental facility (CBEF) of the International Space Station for 8 days without experiencing the stress during launching and landing because the cells were frozen during these periods. Ground control samples were simultaneously cultured for 8 days in the CBEF on the ground for 8 days. After spaceflight, protein expression was analyzed using a PanoramaTM Ab MicroArray protein chips. It was found that p53-dependent up-regulated proteins in response to space radiations and space environment were MeCP2 (methyl CpG binding protein 2), and Notch1 (Notch homolog 1), respectively. On the other hand, p53-dependent down-regulated proteins were TGF-β, TWEAKR (tumor necrosis fac- tor-like weak inducer of apoptosis receptor), phosho-Pyk2 (Proline-rich tyrosine kinase 2), and 14-3-3θ/τ which were affected by microgravity, and DR4 (death receptor 4), PRMT1 (protein arginine methyltrans- ferase 1) and ROCK-2 (Rho-associated, coiled-coil containing protein kinase 2) in response to space radi- ations. ROCK-2 was also suppressed in response to the space environment. The data provides the p53- dependent regulated proteins by exposure to space radiations and/or microgravity during spaceflight. Our expression data revealed proteins that might help to advance the basic space radiation biology.