Heart cells change during spaceflight

ASAT Missile

ASAT Missile

This includes physiological changes in cardiac function, such as reduced heart rate, lowered arterial pressure and increased cardiac output.

Interestingly (and perhaps reassuringly for astronauts like Rubins), the cells appeared to return to normal when their five-and-a-half week jaunt into low Earth orbit ended. "Studies like this could help shed light on how the cells of the body behave in space, especially as the world embarks on more and longer space missions such as going to the moon and Mars". Relatively little is known about the role of microgravity in influencing human cardiac function at the cellular level. They generated hiPSC lines from three individuals by reprogramming blood cells, and then differentiated them into hiPSC-CMs. The launch is scheduled to take place at the International Space Station. However, they did adapt by modifying their beating pattern and calcium recycling patterns.

Sharma, Wnorowski and Wu found that the cardiomyocytes cultured on the space station exhibited different patterns of gene expression than did their counterparts grown back here on Earth. "Our study was the first conducted on the station that used human iPS technology, and demonstrated that it is possible to conduct long-term, human cell-based experiments in space". These results showed that 2,635 genes were differentially expressed among flight, post-flight, and ground control samples.

"We're surprised about how quickly human heart muscle cells are able to adapt to the environment in which they are placed, including microgravity", Wu said in the statement.

This work was supported by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), a Department of Defense National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship (AW), a American Heart Association (AHA) Predoctoral Fellowship, the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program, NIH, a AHA postdoctoral fellowship, a NIH Director's Pioneer Award, the NHLBI Progenitor Cell Biology Consortium, an AHA Grant-in-Aid, Burroughs Wellcome Foundation Innovation in Regulatory Science, and an AHA Established Investigator Award. The cells' ability to become almost any tissue in the body makes them an invaluable resource for physicians wishing to study the effect of drugs on specific, hard-to-obtain tissues or for researchers wanting to delve into the molecular missteps that lead to all manner of diseases.

During an interview hosted by Spaceflight Now on the grounds of the Washington DC's International Astronautical Congress Bridenstine stated that maintaining USA access to the space station is of utmost importance, as NASA is set to move from its reliance on Russian Soyuz spacecraft in the near future to using a balanced squadron of three human-rated vehicles, being the Russian Soyuz, Boeing Starliner, and the SpaceX Crew Dragon.

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