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Molecular Basis of DNA Repair and Protection from Apoptosis in Neuronal Progenitors Exposed to Space Radiation (NNX08BA08G)
Principal Investigator
Research Area:
Radiation health
Species Studied
Scientific Name: Species: Cells

The health risks to astronauts exposed to space radiation include cognitive deficits and possibly accelerated aging. While the pathogenesis of radiation-induced cognitive dysfunction remains largely uncharacterized, it is thought to include loss of neural progenitors from the brain. Understanding of the molecular and cellular bases underlying neuronal loss and/or dysfunction is absolutely required for the development of countermeasures before, during and possibly after space missions. Since experiments in humans are not possible, studies in this direction will benefit from appropriate biological model systems. The neurodegenerative effects of space radiation are likely to derive from DNA damage in the central nervous system (CNS). Therefore, research involving repair of this type of DNA lesions is critical for the development of new neuroprotective countermeasures. In this study, investigators introduced an in vitro model of neural progenitors (neurospheres), which was derived from the brain of mouse embryo from neurodegenerative transgenic mice to study the detrimental effects of space radiation at the mechanistic level. Using this biological model, they studied DNA damage repair and apoptosis of proliferating and differentiated neural progenitor exposed to low dose of high charge and energy nuclei and protons. These studies provided novel insights into the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying CNS risks from space radiation and will help to predict and countermeasure health risks from space radiation particularly with regard to effects on the CNS.

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Cell death
DNA damage
Linear energy transfer (LET)
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Data Information
Data Availability
Archive is complete. Data sets are not publicly available but can be requested.
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Cell death
Cell survival
DNA damage
Oxidative stress

Mission/Study Information
Mission Launch/Start Date Landing/End Date Duration
Ground 05/01/2009 In Progress

Human Research Program (HRP) Human Research Roadmap (HRR) Information
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.

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Additional Information
Managing NASA Center
Johnson Space Center (JSC)
Responsible NASA Representative
Johnson Space Center LSDA Office
Project Manager: Terry Hill
Institutional Support
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Alternate Experiment Name
Proposal Date
Proposal Source
2008 Space Radiobiology