A review of currently available data on in vivo induced chromosome damage in the blood lymphocytes of astronauts proves that cytogenetic biodosimetry analyses on blood collected within a week or two of return from space provides a reliable estimate of equivalent radiation dose and risk after protracted exposure to space radiation of a few months or more. Recent studies indicate that biodosimetry estimates from single spaceflights lie within the range expected from physical dosimetry and biophysical models, but very large uncertainties are associated with single individual measurements and the total sample population remains low. Retrospective doses may be more difficult to estimate because of the fairly rapid time-dependent loss of “stable” aberrations in blood lymphocytes. Also, biodosimetry estimates from individuals who participate in repeated missions, or very long (interplanetary) missions, may be complicated by an adaptive response to space radiation and/or changes in lymphocyte survival and repopulation. A discussion of published data is presented and specific issues related to space radiation biodosimetry protocols are discussed.
Research Containing: Space radiation
Stability of chromosome aberrations in the blood lymphocytes of astronauts measured after space flight by FISH chromosome painting
Follow-up measurements of chromosome aberrations in the blood lymphocytes of astronauts were performed by FISH chromosome painting at various intervals from 5 months to more than 5 years after space flight and compared to preflight baseline measurements. For five of the six astronauts studied, the analysis of individual time courses for translocations revealed a temporal decline of yields with half-lives ranging from 10 to 58 months. The yield of exchanges remained unchanged for the sixth astronaut during an observation period of 5 months after flight. These results may indicate complications with the use of stable aberrations for retrospective dose reconstruction, and the differences in the decay time may reflect individual variability in risk from space radiation exposure.
Cytogenetic analysis of peripheral blood lymphocytes is the most sensitive and reliable method currently available for in vivo assessment of the biological effects of exposure to radiation and provides the most informative measurement of radiation induced health risks. Data indicates that space missions of a few months or more can induce measureable increases in the yield of chromosome damage in the blood lymphocytes of astronauts that can be used to estimate an organ dose equivalent, and biodosimetry estimates lie within the range expected from physical dosimetry. Space biodosimetry poses some unique challenges compared to terrestrial biological assessments of radiation exposures, but data provides a direct measurement of space radiation damage, which takes into account individual radiosensitivity in the presence of confounding factors such as microgravity and other stress conditions. Moreover if chromosome damage persists in the blood for many years, results can be used for retrospective dose reconstruction. In contrast to physical measurements, which are external to body and require multiple devices to detect all radiation types all of which have poor sensitivity to neutrons, biodosimetry is internal and includes the effects of shielding provided by the body itself plus chromosome damage shows excellent sensitivity to protons, heavy ions, and neutrons. In addition, chromosome damage is reflective of cancer risk and biodosimetry values can therefore be used to validate and develop risk assessment models that can be used to characterize health risk incurred by crewmembers. The current paper presents a review of astronaut biodosimetry data, along with recently derived data on the relative cancer risk estimated using the quantitative approach derived from the European Study Group on Cytogenetic Biomarkers and Health database.
Survival of microorganisms representing the three Domains of life inside the International Space Station
The present work was mainly focused to study the response of representative non pathogenic microorganisms to the environment inside the space vehicle at different mission stages (10, 56, and 226 days) within the frame of the Italian ENEIDE mission, from Feb to Oct 2005. Microorganisms were chosen according to their phylogenetic position and cell structures; they were representatives of the three taxonomic domains and belonged to different ecosystems (food, soil, intestinal tract, plants, deep-sea). They were the followings: Thermococcus guaymasensis (Domain Archaea); Saccharomyces cerevisiae (Domain Eucarya); Escherichia coli, Bacillus subtilis, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Enterococcus faecium, Pseudomonas fluorescens, and Rhizobium tropici (Domain Bacteria). As main environmental parameters we were interested in: a) space radiations; b) microgravity; c) temperature. The response of microorganisms was investigated in terms of survival rates, cell structure modifications, and genomic damages. The survival of cells was affected by both radiation doses and intrinsec cell features. As expected, only samples kept on the ISS for 226 days showed significant levels of mortality. Asfar as regard the effect on cell structures, these samples showed also remarkable morphological changes, particularly for Escherichia coli, Enterococcus faecium, and Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The data collected allowed to get new insights into the biological traits of microorganisms exposed to space environment during the flight on a spacecraft. Moreover, the result obtained may be important for the improvement of human conditions aboard space vehicles (nutraceuticals for astronauts and disinfections of ISS modules) and also for the potential development of closed systems devoted to vegetable productions and organic recycling.
Mortality and morbidity risks from space radiation exposure are an important concern for astronauts participating in International Space Station (ISS) missions. NASA’s radiation limits set a 3% cancer fatality probability as the upper bound of acceptable risk and considers uncertainties in risk predictions using the upper 95% confidence level (CL) of the assessment. In addition to risk limitation, an important question arises as to the likelihood of a causal association between a crew-members’ radiation exposure in the past and a diagnosis of cancer. For the first time, we report on predictions of age and sex specific cancer risks, expected years of life-loss for specific diseases, and probability of causation (PC) at different post-mission times for participants in 1-year or multiple ISS missions. Risk projections with uncertainty estimates are within NASA acceptable radiation standards for mission lengths of 1-year or less for likely crew demographics. However, for solar minimum conditions upper 95% CL exceed 3% risk of exposure induced death (REID) by 18 months or 24 months for females and males, respectively. Median PC and upper 95%-confidence intervals are found to exceed 50% for several cancers for participation in two or more ISS missions of 18 months or longer total duration near solar minimum, or for longer ISS missions at other phases of the solar cycle. However, current risk models only consider estimates of quantitative differences between high and low linear energy transfer (LET) radiation. We also make predictions of risk and uncertainties that would result from an increase in tumor lethality for highly ionizing radiation reported in animal studies, and the additional risks from circulatory diseases. These additional concerns could further reduce the maximum duration of ISS missions within acceptable risk levels, and will require new knowledge to properly evaluate.
In this study, we analyzed the biological and physical organ dose equivalents for International Space Station (ISS) astronauts. Individual physical dosimetry is difficult in space due to the complexity of the space radiation environment, which consists of protons, heavy ions and secondary neutrons, and the modification of these radiation types in tissue as well as limitations in dosimeter devices that can be worn for several months in outer space. Astronauts returning from missions to the ISS undergo biodosimetry assessment of chromosomal damage in lymphocyte cells using the multicolor fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) technique. Individual-based pre-flight dose responses for lymphocyte exposure in vitro to gamma rays were compared to those exposed to space radiation in vivo to determine an equivalent biological dose. We compared the ISS biodosimetry results, NASA's space radiation transport models of organ dose equivalents, and results from ISS and space shuttle phantom torso experiments. Physical and biological doses for 19 ISS astronauts yielded average effective doses and individual or population-based biological doses for the approximately 6-month missions of 72 mSv and 85 or 81 mGy-Eq, respectively. Analyses showed that 80% or more of organ dose equivalents on the ISS are from galactic cosmic rays and only a small contribution is from trapped protons and that GCR doses were decreased by the high level of solar activity in recent years. Comparisons of models to data showed that space radiation effective doses can be predicted to within about a +/-10% accuracy by space radiation transport models. Finally, effective dose estimates for all previous NASA missions are summarized.
NASCA Report 2: Longitudinal Study of Relationship of Exposure to Space Radiation and Risk of Lens Opacity
The NASA Study of Cataract in Astronauts (NASCA) was designed to measure the impact of exposure to space radiation on progression rates of cortical, nuclear, and posterior subcapsular cataract in U.S. astronauts who have flown in space and comparison groups of astronauts who had not flown in space, and subjects with a history of military aviation. We present our analyses of 5 years of data with an average of 3.8 exams per subject. All subjects had digital lens images with the Nidek EAS 1000 Lens Imaging System. Because of high variability and skewness of opacity measures, nonparametric methods were used to test for association between rates of opacification and space radiation exposure. First, median regression was used to collapse longitudinal data into robust estimates of progression rates (opacity severity compare to time for each eye of each subject). To quantify and test for a radiation effect, median regression with the dependent variable being the maximum of the two slopes (OD and OS) per subject was then used, adjusting for the confounding variables of age, nutritional, and sun-exposure histories. Median regression showed evidence of an association between the rate of cortical progression in the worse eye with radiation dose and age. The estimated median progression rate from space radiation being 0.25 ± 0.13% lens area/Sv/year (P = 0.062). We found no relationship between radiation exposure and progression of aggregate area of posterior subcapsular cataract or nuclear progression rates. However, longer follow-up may be needed to further understand any impact of space radiation on progression rates for posterior subcapsular cataracts and nuclear cataracts, and to characterize changes to visual acuity.