Metabolomic and Genomic Markers of Atherosclerosis as Related to Oxidative Stress, Inflammation, and Vascular Function in Twin Astronauts (Twins Study - Lee) - 12.28.17

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

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
Although identical twins are genetically almost the same, differences in environment, diet and other outside factors can affect their health in different ways. The Twins Study is an integrated compilation of ten studies at multiple research centers that examines the effects of space travel on twin astronauts, one of whom stays on the International Space Station (ISS) for one year while his twin remains on Earth. Metabolomic and Genomic Markers of Atherosclerosis as Related to Oxidative Stress, Inflammation, and Vascular Function in Twin Astronauts (Twins Study – Lee) studies how spaceflight affects the cardiovascular system, including whether it increases the likelihood of developing atherosclerosis (“hardening” of the arteries), which is a leading contributor to heart attacks and stroke on Earth.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

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

OpNom:

Principal Investigator(s)
Stuart M. C. Lee, Ph.D., KBRwyle, Houston, TX, United States

Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
Brinda Rana, Ph.D., University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA, United States
Dorothy Sears, Ph.D., University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA, United States
Michael B. Stenger, Ph.D., KBRwyle, Houston, TX, United States
Scott M. Smith, Ph.D., NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, United States
Brandon R. Macias, Ph.D., KBRwyle, San Diego, CA, United States
Alan R. Hargens, Ph.D., University of California San Diego, San Diego, CA, United States

Developer(s)
NASA Johnson Space Center, Human Research Program, Houston, TX, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD)

Research Benefits
Earth Benefits, Scientific Discovery, Space Exploration

ISS Expedition Duration
March 2015 - September 2015

Expeditions Assigned
43/44

Previous Missions
None

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • The Twins Study provides the extraordinary opportunity to control variables of individual genetic differences, susceptibilities and lifestyle factors, making differential effects observed between the twins spaceflight-specific. 
  • The Metabolomic and Genomic Markers of Atherosclerosis as Related to Oxidative Stress, Inflammation, and Vascular Function in Twin Astronauts (Twins Study – Lee) investigation studies the effects of long-duration spaceflight on the cardiovascular system independent of genotype.
  • This study also investigates relationships between gene expression, metabolomics profiles, biomarkers in blood and urine, and arterial structure and function using the space-flown and ground-based identical twins.

Description

NASA’s Human Research Program (HRP) and the National Space Biomedical Research Institute have instituted a program to compare the effects of spaceflight accumulated over one year and observe changes in the genetic makeup between twin brothers. This project initiates a pilot demonstration focusing on the use of integrated human analyses to better understand the biomolecular responses to the physical, physiological, and environmental stressors associated with spaceflight. The project emphasis is on the collection of biological specimens and psychological testing from one twin in orbit on the ISS and the collection of corresponding samples and data from his twin on the ground. Sample collection and data analysis occurs before, during and after the one-year mission.
 
The Metabolomic and Genomic Markers of Atherosclerosis as Related to Oxidative Stress, Inflammation, and Vascular Function in Twin Astronauts (Twins Study – Lee) portion of the overall Twins Study investigation focuses on the effects of long-duration spaceflight on the cardiovascular system, independent of genotype.

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Applications

Space Applications
This investigation determines whether the extreme environment of space causes changes in gene expression and metabolism that accelerate the development of atherosclerosis, or “hardening” of the arteries. Researchers compare biomarkers in blood and urine samples, as well as the structure and function of arteries, in identical twin astronauts before, during, and after one twin’s year-long stay on the International Space Station. Results are expected to improve the understanding of how humans adapt to spaceflight and could lead to better countermeasures to protect crew health.

Earth Applications
Atherosclerosis, or a buildup of plaque in the arteries which restricts blood flow and can lead to plaque rupture, is a major cause of heart attacks and stroke. Results from this investigation are expected to provide new insight into how system-wide changes in the body, including environment-related changes in gene expression and metabolism, are related to risk factors for atherosclerosis. This information may prove useful in the development of new treatments and preventive measures for related health issues on Earth.

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Operations

Operational Requirements and Protocols


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Decadal Survey Recommendations

CategoryReference
Animal and Human Biology AH16
Behavioral and Mental Health B3

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Related Websites
Center for Epigenetics, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Main Twins Study

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Imagery

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NASA Image: ISS038e004627 - Astronaut Koichi Wakata uses the ISS Ultrasound to image his carotid artery to help scientists learn about potential changes in vascular structure and function as a result of the spaceflight environment.

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NASA Image: ISS038e019219 - Astronaut Koichi Wakata stores biological sample in the MELFI to preserve them until they are returned to Johnson Space Center for analysis.

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