This experiment will perform standard assays to assess crewmembers’ telomere lengths and telomerase activity as part of their space flight biochemical profiles preflight (to establish baseline), during flight (to evaluate short-term/temporary changes) and postflight (to evaluate long-term/permanent changes). Together with investigation of potential mechanisms and mitigation strategies, as well as information related to diet/nutrition, gender, age, stress, genetic predisposition/sensitivity, and appropriate statistical analyses, results will help to establish relevant relationships and suggest potential interventions (e.g., antioxidants) for further study. The Longitudinal Study of Astronaut Health (LSAH), an electronic database of medical information collected over the active and post career lives of the astronauts, will be a valuable resource in this regard. The proposed studies are also strongly grounded to on-going, as well as previous biodosimetry studies utilizing chromosome aberration data. For example, samples for cytogenetic analysis from 30 International Space Station (ISS) astronauts have been archived and could now be used (built upon) for telomere/telomerase analyses.
The overall goal is to identify and begin to define the risk (and possible underlying mechanisms) of accelerated telomere shortening and changes in telomerase activity associated with space flight, a lifestyle with a variety of unique stressors, including inadequate nutrition. Consequences of accelerated telomere shortening would include advanced aging and age associated phenotypes, ranging from reduced immune function, effects of which could be immediate/short-term and so influence performance during a mission, to cardiovascular disease and cancer, representing more long-term/permanent outcomes.
The objectives of this study are:
- Assess telomere lengths and telomerase activity preflight to establish baseline levels.
- Assess telomere lengths and telomerase activity in-flight to establish short-term (temporary) changes.
- Assess telomere lengths and telomerase activity postflight to establish long-term (permanent) changes.
- Investigate potential mechanisms (e.g., oxidative stress) and mitigation strategies (e.g., antioxidants).
++ -- View more
Blood samples will be collected by venipuncture during the preflight and postflight phases. There will be one preflight session between L-180 and L-90 days, and three postflight samples, one between R+14 and R+35, one between R+6 months and 18 months and the final session a year after the second post-flight session.
This experiment is in progress. Results will be available at a later date.
Crew health and performance is critical to successful human exploration beyond low Earth orbit.
The Human Research Program (HRP) investigates and mitigates the highest risks to human health
and performance, providing essential countermeasures and technologies for human space exploration.
Risks include physiological and performance effects from hazards such as radiation, altered gravity,
and hostile environments, as well as unique challenges in medical support, human factors,
and behavioral health support. The HRP utilizes an Integrated Research Plan (IRP) to identify
the approach and research activities planned to address these risks, which are assigned to specific
Elements within the program. The Human Research Roadmap is the web-based tool for communicating the IRP content.
The Human Research Roadmap is located at: https://humanresearchroadmap.nasa.gov/
+ Click here
for information of how this experiment is contributing to the HRP's path for risk reduction.