Functional Effects of Spaceflight on Cardiovascular Stem Cells (Cardiac Stem Cells) - 07.12.17

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

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Science Objectives for Everyone
Functional Effects of Spaceflight on Cardiovascular Stem Cells (Cardiac Stem Cells) investigates how microgravity affects stem cells and the factors that govern stem cell activity, including physical and molecular changes. Spaceflight is known to affect cardiac function and structure, but the biological basis for this is not clearly understood. This investigation helps clarify the role of stem cells in cardiac biology and tissue regeneration. In addition, this research could confirm the hypothesis that microgravity accelerates the aging process.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Mary Kearns-Jonker, Ph.D., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details

OpNom: Cardiac Stem Cells

Principal Investigator(s)
Mary Kearns-Jonker, Ph.D., Department of Pathology and Human Anatomy Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda, CA, United States

Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
Michael J. Pecaut, Ph.D., Loma Linda University, CA, United States

Developer(s)
BioServe Space Technologies, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
National Laboratory (NL)

Research Benefits
Space Exploration, Earth Benefits, Scientific Discovery

ISS Expedition Duration
April 2017 - September 2017

Expeditions Assigned
51/52

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • The goal of the Functional Effects of Spaceflight on Cardiovascular Stem Cells (Cardiac Stem Cells) investigation is to provide new insight into stem cell function and biology pertaining to cardiac tissue maintenance, repair, and function. Data derived from this investigation may provide new avenues for the use of stem cell therapies to combat heart disease, and could provide new insight into the design, and use, of stem cell therapies to repair cardiac tissue damage.
  • The Cardiac Stem Cells investigation seeks to investigate the impact of the spaceflight environment on stem cell signaling, migration, proliferation, differentiation, and senescence, and to characterize those changes. Application of the spaceflight data to a comparative analysis with the ground control to identify differences in cellular and molecular processes to obtain new knowledge of stem cell function, and its role in cardiac biology and tissue regeneration. The investigation also seeks to identify the effect of the microgravity environment on stem cells that are responsible for responding to changes in cardiac structure known to occur during flight.
  • Cardiac Stem Cells seeks to provide an increased knowledge and understanding of cardiac stem cell function, which is required for biomedical and commercial applications. Also, it is hoped that new knowledge can be obtained that can be applied to the investigation and design of new stem cell therapies to treat and eventually cure heart disease.

Description

The International Space Station (ISS) is utilized to address the impact of the spaceflight environment on early cardiovascular stem cell signaling, migration, proliferation, differentiation, and senescence in human neonatal and adult cardiovascular stem cells isolated from the heart. The study determines whether microgravity in the spaceflight environment has an age-dependent effect on these parameters. The Functional Effects of Spaceflight on Cardiovascular Stem Cells (Cardiac Stem Cells) investigation addresses the hypothesis that the spaceflight environment accelerates the aging process, rendering the cardiovascular stem cells from neonates more similar to those from older adults. Understanding the role of environmental conditions on stem cells that reside within the heart is relevant for patients on Earth who are candidates for treatment with cardiac stem cells, as well as crew members returning to Earth who may require cell-based treatment to repair lost heart muscle incurred during flight.
 
Understanding the molecular basis for the enhanced regenerative capacity of neonatal cardiovascular stem cells on Earth and the impact of the space environment on cardiovascular stem cells from neonates and adults could provide new insight that can be applied to regenerative medicine on Earth and could potentially transform the field of cardiovascular medicine A panel of cardiovascular stem cell clones isolated from the heart of human neonates and adults is used to reveal the genetic basis for key differences in function. Early human endogenous cardiovascular progenitors isolated from the heart and expanded as clonal populations expressing islet-1 and c-kit as well as a number of early cardiovascular progenitor cell markers represent a unique population that are used for this study. Epigenetic analysis performed by this research team identified numerous micro-ribonucleic acids (microRNA) whose expression was significantly altered with age in these phenotypically identical neonatal and adult cardiovascular stem cell clones. These differences were correlated with reduced proliferation, and limited capacity, to invade in response to growth factor stimulation in the adult cardiovascular stem cells, despite the expression of high levels of growth factor receptor on these cells. Signature gene expression changes associated with senescence were induced in the adult cardiovascular stem cell clones. The molecular genetic profile distinguishing neonatal and adult cardiovascular stem cell clones and the impact of the space environment on these gene expression profiles provides a resource of information that can be utilized in the development of new ways to reverse the limited capacity of adult stem cells to efficiently repair the heart.
 
This Center for the Advancement of Science In Space (CASIS) sponsored ISS spaceflight experiment studies the impact of spaceflight, and the microgravity environment, on the functional capacity of both neonatal and adult human cardiovascular stem cell clones. The information can help to advance stem cell-based therapies on Earth, by contributing to the understanding of the molecular basis for functional differences in the regenerative capacity of neonatal and adult cardiovascular stem cells. The information benefits the space program because it can help to clarify the effect of microgravity on stem cells that are responsible for responding to changes in cardiac structure known to occur during flight.

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Applications

Space Applications
Changes in cardiac structure are known to occur during spaceflight and cardiovascular stem cells respond to these changes. Understanding how the microgravity environment affects these stem cells can advance development of therapies to maintain astronaut cardiac health during long spaceflight as well as treatments for reversing heart muscle loss once astronauts return to Earth.

Earth Applications
This investigation provides new insight into the biology of stem cells and their role in cardiac tissue maintenance, repair, and function. Such increased understanding has applications in development of stem cell therapies to combat heart disease and repair damaged cardiac tissue. Patients who suffer from cardiovascular disease, one of the world’s leading causes of death, are potential candidates for cardiac stem cell treatment.

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Operations

Operational Requirements and Protocols

Three groups of stem cell clones are cultured on-orbit. Four neonatal clonal samples from different individuals, four adult clonal samples from different individuals, plus one pooled neonatal and one pooled adult stem cell sample of early human cardiovascular stem cells are used in this study. Cells are seeded on the ground and launched active in BioCells conditioned to 5% carbon dioxide (CO2) and sealed in Plate Habitats. NASA provided conditioned stowage housed on-orbit in Space Automated Bioproduct Laboratory (SABL) with Atmosphere Control Module (ACM) maintains a 37°C, 5% CO2 environment. Neonatal and adult samples are preserved (RNAprotect) after two weeks and returned frozen. Pooled samples are grown for approximately 30 days and returned live at 37°C, 5% CO2. Bi-weekly media exchange and sample preservation performed in Disposable Glove Bag (DGB) or Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG).

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Related Websites

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Imagery