Biochemical Profile (Biochem Profile) - 01.16.19

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ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
The Biochemical Profile (Biochem Profile) experiment tests blood and urine samples obtained from astronauts before, during and after spaceflight. Specific proteins and chemicals in the samples are used as biomarkers, or indicators of health. Postflight analysis yields a database of samples and test results, which scientists can use to study the effects of spaceflight on the body.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Scott M. Smith, Ph.D., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details

OpNom: Biochem Profile

Principal Investigator(s)
Scott M. Smith, Ph.D., NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, United States

Martina A. Heer, Ph.D., University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany
Sara R. Zwart, Ph.D., University of Texas Medical Branch, Houston, TX, United States

NASA Johnson Space Center, Human Research Program, Houston, TX, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
NASA - Human Research Program (NASA-HRP)

Research Benefits
Earth Benefits, Scientific Discovery, Space Exploration

ISS Expedition Duration
September 2013 - March 2016; March 2016 - March 2019

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • The International Space Station (ISS) provides a platform to investigate the effects of microgravity on human physiology prior to exploration class missions. Biological samples provide a means for investigating the physiological responses to spaceflight. The collection and analysis of these samples will provide a valuable resource.
  • This comprehensive database may be used to investigate the effects of spaceflight on human physiology and for the assessment of proposed countermeasures evaluating their effect on different physiological systems. Multiple samples from an individual will be collected during the pre-, in- and postflight phases of ISS missions.
  • The establishment of the Biochemical Profile (Biochem Profile) experiment will provide a multi-disciplinary database enabling supporting evidence to meet the goals of scientific and programmatic relevance to the space program.


As long-duration spaceflights continue and the operational suite of countermeasures is modified, the food system is updated, and the duration of missions lengthens, it is important to evaluate and monitor a broad set of biomarkers for key physiological systems. The Nutritional Status Assessment Supplemental Medical Objective (aka “Nutrition SMO”) was initiated in 2006, and yielded significant clinical, operational, and research data. This project aims to update and extend the Nutrition SMO.

Nutrition SMO data have been used to help identify or explain medical, scientific, and even engineering issues that have occurred during or after International Space Station missions. The data have been used by Medical Operations on multiple occasions, to confirm the effectiveness of vitamin D supplementation, to evaluate blood and urine chemistries, and to evaluate the effects of exercise devices on bone and calcium metabolism. The ISS Program Office has used these data to determine factors contributing to the Urine Processor Assembly failure and to make forward operational decisions. Perhaps most striking, the data provided evidence that one-carbon metabolism may be altered in crew members who experienced vision changes post flight, the highest Human Research Program risk. The relationship between nutritional status and 1-carbon metabolism would likely never have been discovered if the Nutrition SMO was not being conducted.

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Space Applications
The human body changes in various ways in microgravity, and the Biochem Profile experiment establishes a database of key metabolic differences that can be detected using blood and urine samples. The database will improve efforts to understand and reduce the risks associated with long-duration space missions. Scientists can also test the effectiveness of possible countermeasures like exercise and nutrition, which will improve recommendations for future long-duration and exploration missions. The Biochemical Profile also assesses a broad population of crew members for the first time, identifying issues specific to groups like men and women, repeat long-duration travelers and others. Establishing a chemical profile of the body’s response to spaceflight will help scientists understand how different systems in the body interact in microgravity in different groups of people.

Earth Applications
An improved understanding of the biochemical effects of microgravity could also help patients with limited mobility on Earth, such as those on bed rest. Understanding how various physiological systems respond and interact to changing gravity conditions could help physicians design different treatments or exercises for people with limited mobility.

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Operational Requirements and Protocols

  1. This investigation requests participation from all USOS ISS crew members.
  2. Crew members must be fasted for at least 8 hours prior to blood draws.
  3. Pre- and postflight samples are stored at -80°C.
  4. In-flight samples must remain frozen through landing and delivery to PI (-20°C is max allowable temp at delivery to PI; -80°C preferred).
  5. Blood draw should be performed within 24 hours of urine collection start.
  6. Exercise should not be performed in the 8 hours prior to the blood draw.
  7. For a “6 month” mission that is not exactly 180 days, the final session should be performed within 2 weeks of landing but greater than 3 weeks from the previous session. The FD 15 session can be scheduled ±5 days, all others can be collected ±14 days; however, there should be no less than 7 days between the FD 15 and FD 30 sessions and no less than 3 weeks between other collections.
  8. For a “1 year” mission that is not exactly 360 days, the final session should be performed within 2 weeks of landing but greater than 3 weeks from the previous session. The FD 15 session can be scheduled ±5 days, all others can be collected ±14 days; however, there should be no less than 7 days between the FD 15 and FD 30 sessions and no less than 3 weeks between other collections.

In-flight operations for mission durations of 6 months will consist of 5 sessions scheduled on FD 15, 30, 60, 120, and 180 (or within 2 weeks of landing). For 1-year missions, a total of 8 sessions will be required (on FD15, 30, 60, 120, 180, 240, 300, and 360/R-14). Each in-flight session includes a fasting blood draw and 24-hour void-by-void urine collection. In-flight blood will be processed using the ISS centrifuge and stored in the Minus Eighty-Degree Laboratory Freezer (MELFI) on the ISS until return to earth. Two urine aliquots will be removed from the in-flight urine collection device and frozen. When possible, all blood and urine collection sessions will be combined with medical operations testing or on-going research investigations to minimize inconveniences for crew members. Additionally, body mass will be measured monthly throughout a crew member’s flight. Nominally, this data will be obtained via data sharing from Space Medicine’s use of the Russian Body Mass Measurement Device; however, if that data is unavailable, the HRF SLAMMD will be used.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Animal and Human Biology AH14
Animal and Human Biology AH16
Crosscutting Issues for Humans in the Space Environment CC6

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Related Websites

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NASA Image: ISS037E010720 - NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins, Expedition 37 flight engineer, prepares to insert samples into a Minus Eighty Laboratory Freezer for ISS (MELFI) dewar tray in the International Space Station’s Destiny laboratory.

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NASA Image: ISS040E013786 - Increment 40, Reid Wiseman inserting Biochem Profile urine samples into MELFI.

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NASA Image: ISS037E006482 - NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins, Expedition 37 flight engineer, performs Body Mass Measurement activities using the Space Linear Acceleration Mass Measurement Device (SLAMMD) in the Columbus laboratory aboard the Earth-orbiting International Space Station.

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