Effects of Spaceflight on Gastrointestinal Microbiota in Mice: Mechanisms and Impact on Multi-System Physiology (Rodent Research-7 (RR-7)) - 08.15.18

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

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Science Objectives for Everyone
Effects of Spaceflight on Gastrointestinal Microbiota in Mice: Mechanisms and Impact on Multi-System Physiology, or Rodent Research-7 (RR-7), examines how the space environment affects the community of microoganisms in the gastrointestinal tract of mice (also known as the microbiota). It also looks at microgravity’s effects on multiple physiological systems known to be affected by the microbiota, including the gastrointestinal (GI), immune, metabolic, circadian, and sleep systems. These studies help explain mechanisms underlying interactions between these systems and the role of the microbiota in these interactions.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

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

OpNom: Rodent Research-7

Principal Investigator(s)
Fred W. Turek, Ph.D., Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, United States

Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
Martha Hotz Vitaterna, Ph.D., Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, United States
Stefan Green, Ph.D., University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, United States
Ali Keshavarzian, M.D., Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL, United States
Christopher Forsyth, Ph.D., Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL, United States
Peng Jiang, Ph.D., Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, United States

Developer(s)
NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
NASA Research Office - Space Life and Physical Sciences (NASA Research-SLPS)

Research Benefits
Information Pending

ISS Expedition Duration
February 2018 - August 2018; -

Expeditions Assigned
55/56,57/58

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • The community of microbiota that inhabit the mammalian digestive tract have a major impact on the physiology and behavior in mammals, including humans. Disruption of the normal microbiota communities in the digestive tract has been linked to multiple health problems: including the intestinal, immune, mental, and metabolic health.
  • For the Effects of Spaceflight on Gastrointestinal Microbiota in Mice: Mechanisms and Impact on Multi-System Physiology, or Rodent Research-7 (RR-7) investigation, a team of established investigators with a wide range of expertise in the areas of microbiota identification, gut physiology, immune function, circadian rhythms, and metabolism looks at how the gut microbiota changes in response to spaceflight, and how that change in turn affects the immune and metabolic systems
  • Mice are used as a model system to study the mechanisms that lead to spaceflight-induced changes in the microbiota on the molecular level. To better understand the impact of genetic differences and long-duration spaceflight, this experiment includes two independent variables: 1) the duration of spaceflight is compared between 30 days and 90 days, as well as a preflight baseline data collection; and 2) two different inbred strains of mice are compared in the same mission.
  • Completion of the mice studies can significantly advance knowledge of the role of gut microbiota in mammalian health, and the impact of the spaceflight environment on microbiota over time. The simultaneous examination and analysis of multiple physiological systems providse an unprecedented view of how these systems interact and respond to spaceflight.

Description

The Effects of Spaceflight on Gastrointestinal Microbiota in Mice: Mechanisms and Impact on Multi-System Physiology (Rodent Research-7 [RR-7]) investigation collects molecular, endocrine, physiological, and behavioral data from the same individual mice, related to our five focus areas:
  • The microbiome (community of microorganisms) of the gastrointestinal tract. Fecal samples (spontaneously voided) are collected before flight, and at time points during flight. Analysis of DNA isolated from feces is used to identify species and gene functions present in the microorganisms.
  • Gastrointestinal function is assessed via gene expression, marker proteins, and histology (microscopic structure exam) of tissue specimens obtained pre-flight, and at two different durations of spaceflight (~30 days and ~90 days).
  • Immune function and inflammation is assessed via gene expression, marker proteins, and histology of tissue specimens and blood obtained pre-flight, and at two different durations of spaceflight (~30 days and ~90 days).
  • Metabolic function is assessed via gene expression, marker proteins, and histology of tissue specimens and blood obtained pre-flight, and at two different durations of spaceflight (~30 days and ~90 days). In addition, body weight is tracked over time using a small mass measurement device, and body composition is assessed using an X-ray (DXA) scan before flight, and at the time of euthanasia.
  • Sleep and circadian rhythms are assessed by scoring activity/rest, and feeding behaviors from continuous video recordings (48 hours) at three different time points of flight duration.
Comparisons of two different host (mouse) genotypes and, two different durations of spaceflight lengths, facilitate use of the results from this study to predict responses to long-duration missions.

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Applications

Space Applications
Rodent Research-7 advances knowledge of the role of gut microbiota in mammalian health and how spaceflight affects it over time. The study evaluates relationships between system changes such as sleep-wake cycle disruption and imbalance of microbial populations (dysbiosis), identifying contributing factors and supporting development of countermeasures to protect astronaut health during long-term missions.

Earth Applications
Many disorders of human gastrointestinal, immune, metabolic, and sleep systems on Earth are affected by a person’s microbiota. The RR-7 investigation provides new insight to guide development of interventions targeting imbalance of microbial populations, or dysbiosis, to treat these disorders.

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Operations

Operational Requirements and Protocols

During the mission, the Transporter and Habitat hardware are used; the Transporter houses animals during transit to the ISS, and the Habitat houses rodents on the ISS for long-duration missions. The Life Support System provided by the Dragon Cargo Vehicle provide environmental conditions during transport. The Access Unit interfaces with either the Transporter or Habitat to allow handling a transfer of animals.
 
For this flight, 20 female mice of two different strains are flown to meet the science objectives. Animals are transferred from the Transporter into two Habitats that provide long duration housing abroad the ISS. Fecal pellets from each animal are collected before launch, and at each food bar change out (every 14 days). Samples swabbed from the food bar surfaces are also collected for analysis. Swabs of the Habitats are performed pre flight, in flight, and post flight for examination of microflora.
 
Video showing animal health and 48-hour activity/rest behaviors are obtained at three time points, and downlinked for archival recording and analysis. Mass measurements of the mice are taken at two different time points. At approximately 30 days in microgravity, 10 animals are processed and imaged with a bone density scanner, and the remaining 10 mice are processed and imaged after up to 90 days in microgravity. Daily video downlink is necessary to check the health and well-being of animals while housed in the Habitats.

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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

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NASA Image: ISS056E095029 - NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold works on gear (Bone Densitometer Field Calibration) aboard the International Space Station in preparation for Rodent Research-7 (RR-7). Photo taken by Expedition 56 crew.

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NASA Image: ISS056E095046 - NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold works on gear (Bone Densitometer Field Calibration) aboard the International Space Station, in support of the Rodent Research-7 (RR-7).

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