Aging is the single biggest risk factor for almost all human pathologies other than those caused by infections or due to congenital defects. DNA repair is hypothesized to be one of the processes that influence the epigenetic clock – the newest and most powerful measure of both chronological and biological age in humans. During spaceflight radiation causes DNA damage, which is repaired. Prolonged space flight therefore presents an unrivalled opportunity to address the question of whether DNA damage influences epigenetic age, which will increase our understanding of aging and is of interest to current and future space ventures.
Specific aims of this research include:
- Gain insight into the relationship between DNA damage caused by low earth orbit radiation and age-related epigenetic changes in humans including the epigenetic clock (Horvath, 2013).
- Obtain genome-wide DNA methylation data from humans pre- and post-spaceflight.
- Characterize DNA methylation changes associated with spaceflight.
- Describe genome-wide epigenetic changes associated with spaceflight in humans that can contribute to explain DNA methylation changes.