Muscle Atrophy of Muscle Sparing in Transgenic Mice (Rodent Research-1 (CASIS)) - 11.22.16

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) obtains tissue samples from mice flown to the International Space Station to support valuable commercial muscle wasting research. Researchers hope to gain a better understanding of several biological mechanisms that in turn can help develop new drug targets. 
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Robbie Hampton, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details


Principal Investigator(s)

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Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
National Laboratory (NL)

Research Benefits
Earth Benefits, Scientific Discovery, Space Exploration

ISS Expedition Duration
September 2014 - March 2015

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • A total of 10 mice, 5 wild type and 5 transgenic, are sent to the ISS to live in microgravity for 21 days.
  • A Pharmaceutical company is interested in the use of rodent models for:
    • Screening of potential drug targets
    • Understanding of biological mechanisms
  • Physiological systems of commercial interest include:
    • Bone- osteoporosis
    • Muscle- metabolic disease, disuse from injury, muscular dystrophy
    • Immune- treatment of auto-immune diseases, approaches to fighting infection


Based on the recommendations from the National Research Council’s Recapturing a Future for Space Exploration:  Life and Physical Sciences Research for a New Era (2011),  and on surveys of potential ISS users from industry and other government agencies, the ISS Program has created an on-orbit rodent research program as an essential tool for understanding the impacts of space flight on physiological systems and for development of potential therapies that will mitigate detrimental responses and advance disease treatments in certain populations on Earth. Researchers use both similarities and differences between rodents and humans to gain insight into complex human biological systems, and past rodent spaceflight experiments have contributed significantly to our understanding of the effects of microgravity on biological processes that are directly relevant to humans in space. Physiological systems of interest for commercial companies are targeted at the following systems:
  • Bone - osteoporosis
  • Muscle -metabolic disease, disuse from injury, muscular dystrophy
  • Immune- treatment of auto-immune diseases, approaches to fighting infection
  • Cardiovascular - treatment of cardiac and vascular diseases
Rodent Research-1 consists of Rodent Research-1 NASA and Rodent Research-1 CASIS and plans to launch 20 mice, including 10 NASA mice, and 10 CASIS mice. The CASIS mice include 16 week-old C57Bl female mice, 5 wild type and 5 transgenic MuRF-1 knockout. Researchers aim to look at the muscle atrophy and muscle sparing in the transgenic mice.

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Space Applications
This is the first flight of the Rodent Research system for long-duration use on the International Space Station. The validation of the rodent habitat system and operations allows for future rodent investigations studying the effects of microgravity on the mammalian system during long duration spaceflight.

Earth Applications
New technologies have opened up increased research opportunities for using animal models to study body system changes onboard the space station’s U.S. National Laboratory. These models include, but are not limited to, rodents, worms, flies and fish. This research may lead to significant results in the field of human aging and disease. In additional research areas, gravity (and the lack thereof) has strong effects on many biological and physical processes. Some of these changes allow scientists to study and develop new drugs to treat diseases on Earth.

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Operational Requirements and Protocols

Video downlink is required.

On-orbit operations require the ability to launch and maintain rodents (mice and rats) in a habitat and in some cases also require rodent euthanasia, dissection, and tissue sample preparation and preservation.
Crew installs the Habitat into the Express Rack, connects the power connectors and turns on lights and fans, and installs food bars.  The Transporter and Access Unit are de-stowed and animals are transferred from the Transporter to two Habitats using Mouse Transfer Boxes.  Half of the animals are used to support CASIS science, the other half support NASA hardware validation.  Every 3 days for the first 12 days crewmembers check the water box through the lid and report any obvious signs of leakage or condensation indicating a problem with the water system.
Dissections begin on the mice no earlier than a minimum exposure to microgravity for 21 days. All 10 mice are euthanized and dissected within a 3 day period.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

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Results/More Information

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Related Websites

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