Microgravity as Model for Immunological Senescence and Its Impact on Tissue Stem Cells and Regeneration (STaARS BioScience-7) - 01.16.19

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

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
Microgravity as Model for Immunological Senescence and Its Impact on Tissue Stem Cells and Regeneration (STaARS BioScience-7) uses tissue chips to investigate the relationship between aging of the immune system and its function. The study looks at the biology of aging from two perspectives—immune function in microgravity and recovery of the cells after return to a 1g environment. Aging is associated with dysregulation of the immune response, termed immunosenescence, a condition that also may be accelerated by prolonged exposure to microgravity.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

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

OpNom: STaARS BioScience-7

Principal Investigator(s)
Sonja Schrepfer, M.D., Ph.D., University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, United States

Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
Thomas Wade Kyler, Space Technology and Advanced Research Systems, Inc., Houston, TX, United States

Developer(s)
Space Technology and Advanced Research Systems, Inc., Houston, TX, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
National Laboratory - National Institutes of Health (NL-NIH)

Research Benefits
Information Pending

ISS Expedition Duration
October 2018 - March 2019

Expeditions Assigned
57/58

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • Microgravity as Model for Immunological Senescence and its Impact on Tissue Stem Cells and Regeneration (STaARS BioScience-7) aims to better understand aging in humans.
  • Immunosenescence is the gradual decline of the immune system as a result of natural aging.
  • While all components of the immune system are influenced by aging, adaptive immunity is the greatest affected, and specifically CD8+ T cells (a subtype of white blood cell) are observed to increase significantly with age.
  • Since microgravity affects the immune system in many ways, this investigation utilizes tissue mimics on chips to examine how microgravity affects the cells associated with aging.
  • Postflight recovery of these cells is also examined.
  • Microgravity as a model for immunosenescence may help understand and treat age-associated diseases.

Description

Microgravity as Model for Immunological Senescence and its Impact on Tissue Stem Cells and Regeneration (STaARS BioScience-7) studies specific cells that may provide insight to how humans age.
 
Aging is associated with dysregulation of the immune response, which is also termed “immunosenescence.” Each part of the immune system is influenced to some extent by the aging process. However, adaptive immunity seems more extensively affected, and it is especially the T cells (a subtype of white blood cell) that are altered. In fact, the number and proportion of late-differentiated T cells, particularly a type known as CD8+ T cells, is higher in the elderly than in the young and their accumulation may contribute to the enhanced systemic pro-inflammatory milieu commonly seen in elderly individuals. Interestingly, the proportion of CD8+ effector memory RA (TEMRA) cells increases significantly with age, which is not seen for CD4+ cells. These changes are not fully understood, and further research is needed.
 
Spaceflight causes a suite of negative health effects that may be comparable to immunosenescence, which seems to be a key regulator of the regenerative capacity of tissue- and organ-specific stem cells. Organ-specific stem and progenitor cells may allow the design of strategies for organ regeneration. The overarching objective of this proposal is to gain a better understanding of the influence of immunosenescence on the regenerative capacity of tissue-specific stem cells. Specifically, studies examining the effects of bone healing by mesenchymal stromal cells and vascular regeneration by endothelial progenitor cells are planned using tissue mimics on chip to represent “semi-3D” architectures.
 
Microgravity may be used as an aging model that may translate findings to improve human health on Earth by using chips on the International Space Station (ISS) for up to a month. Notably, the proposed studies investigate postflight recovery of tissue chips using histological analysis combined with functional and genomic analysis. In collaboration with Space Technology and Advanced Research Systems, Inc. (STaARS), the investigation tests in vitro tissue-on-chip platform that mimics human physiology to study the effect of immunosenescence on tissue-specific stem cells. This system is designed for use in the extreme environment of space. The investigation also tests the effect of simulated microgravity and normal (1g) conditions on in vitro cultures of CD8+ T cells and on their co-culture with stem cells. The effects of microgravity at the International Space Station – National Lab (ISS-NL) on in vitro co-cultures of CD8+ T cells and stem cells are assessed. The effect of microgravity on immunosenescence (differentiation of CD8+ T cells into TEMRA cells) and tissue-specific stem cells in space as model for aging using microarrays is then determined. Finally, postflight recovery of tissue chips, using functional analysis of stem cells is investigated. This proposal may contribute materially to the understanding of the impact of an aged immune system on tissue healing and regeneration.

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Applications

Space Applications
Spaceflight causes a suite of negative health effects, many of them comparable to immunosenescence, which seems to be a key regulator of the regenerative capacity of tissue- and organ-specific stem cells. A better understanding of these cells and their capacity may lead to strategies to protect and maintain astronaut health on future long-term missions.

Earth Applications
Every part of the immune system is affected to some extent by the aging process, leading to significantly higher risks of disease and death. This investigation seeks a better understanding of the influence of immunosenescence on the regenerative capacity of tissue-specific stem cells, which may lead to new treatment options for elderly and immuno-compromised patients.

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Operations

Operational Requirements and Protocols
Crew moves Chip-Kit from Cargo Transfer Bags in Dragon to STaARS-1 for incubation in STaARS-1. STaARS commands to pre-heat STaARS-1 a minimum of 1.5 hours to 37ºC before installation of the Kits. Per the experiment requirements timeline, each Kit is successfully taken from STaARS-1 and placed into -80ºC storage. This enables an observation of the sample growth curve while exposed to micro-gravity. STaARS monitors the experiment continuously and needs "on demand" command windows in order to handle any contingencies quickly and maintain science objectives should technical issues arise.

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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