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Space Flight Environment Induces Remodeling of Vascular Network and Glia-Vascular Communication in Mouse Retina (NNX15AB41G)
Principal Investigator
Research Area:
Developmental biology
Species Studied
Scientific Name: Mus musculus Species: Mouse

The eye is a unique organ because it is relatively unprotected and constantly exposed to atmospheric oxygen, background radiation, environmental chemicals, and physical abrasion. A recent report shows that more than 30% of the astronauts returning from space were diagnosed with eye problems that can cause headaches and blurry vision. Our Preliminary studies from mice that had been subjected to spaceflights showed that environmental conditions during space travel lead to oxidative stress and induce adverse microvessel remodeling in the retina. However, our knowledge about the pathophysiological process from adaptive response to irreversible oxidative damage in the retina during and after spaceflight exposure and the underlying cellular mechanism(s) of these disturbances is very limited and inconsistent.

The objectives of this application are to characterize the impact of spaceflight on female mouse retinal vasculature and tissue remodeling and to study the role of mitochondria in regulating oxidative stress-induced cellular damage and cell-cell interactions in the function of blood-retina-barrier (BRB). Our study will also determine the extent to which an antioxidant metalloporphyrin protects against spaceflight environment-induced changes in retinal neurovascular coupling and retinal function.

Together, our unique, integrative and quantitative activities with advanced MRI imaging techniques and retinal functional testing using visual electroretinography, will provide insight into the molecular mechanisms and pathways of spaceflight condition-induced mitochondrial oxidative damage on retinal BRB integrity, vascular remodeling, and retinal function. The data will provide unique criteria for risks of functional detriments associated with spaceflight. Our study will also lead to new information to understand the causes and possible treatments of similar Earth-based neurovascular-related diseases and retinal disorders and will point toward potential countermeasures.

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Mission/Study Information
Mission Launch/Start Date Landing/End Date Duration
SpaceX_12 08/14/2017 09/16/2017 33 days

Additional Information
Managing NASA Center
Ames Research Center (ARC)
Responsible NASA Representative
Ames Research Center LSDA Level 3
Project Manager: Helen Stewart
Institutional Support
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Proposal Date
Proposal Source
2014 Space Biology NNH14Z
Hardware Items