Biomedical Analyses of Human Hair Exposed to a Long-term Space Flight (Hair) - 07.12.17

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

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
Hair root cells actively divide in a hair follicle, and they sensitively reflect physical conditions. The hair shaft has an advantage in that it records the metabolic conditions of the environment where the subject is. The purpose of this experiment is to examine the effect of long duration space flight on gene expression and trace element metabolism in human body by analysing human hair.
Science Results for Everyone
Your roots are showing. Actively dividing hair root cells can reveal a person’s physical health, while the hair shaft records the metabolic conditions of the environment in which the person lives. This investigation uses human hair to examine the effect of long-duration spaceflight on gene expression and trace element metabolism. Hair samples are collected from ten space station crewmembers and RNA successfully extracted. Some changes in gene expression have been detected, and distribution of trace elements evaluated. Additional, detailed analysis of the samples is underway. The data obtained help support development of diagnostic tests that do not require blood or urine.

The following content was provided by Chiaki Mukai, M.D., Ph.D., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Information provided courtesy of the Japan Aerospace and Exploration Agency (JAXA).
Experiment Details

OpNom: Hair

Principal Investigator(s)
Chiaki Mukai, M.D., Ph.D., Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Tsukuba, Japan

Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
Noriaki Ishioka, Japan Aerospace and Exploration Agency, Tsukuba City, Japan
Masahiro Terada, Ph.D., Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Tsukuba, Japan
Riyo Yamanaka, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Tsukuba, Japan
Takashi Q. Yamazaki, Ph.D., Japan Aerospace and Exploration Agency, Tsukuba, Japan
Akira Higashibata, Ph.D., Japan Aerospace and Exploration Agency, Tsukuba, Japan
Hiroshi Ohshima, M.D., Ph.D., Japan Aerospace and Exploration Agency, Ibaraki, Japan
Shin Yamada, M.D., Ph.D., Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Tsukuba, Japan
Tatsuya Aiba, Tsukuba Space Center, Ibaraki, Japan
Satoru Ishida, Tsukuba Space Center, Ibaraki, Japan
Reiko Nakao, University of Tokushima, Tokushima, Japan

Developer(s)
Information Pending

Sponsoring Space Agency
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

Sponsoring Organization
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

Research Benefits
Information Pending

ISS Expedition Duration
October 2009 - March 2010; September 2010 - March 2013

Expeditions Assigned
21/22,25/26,27/28,29/30,31/32,33/34

Previous Missions
Hair was first operated on ISS Increment 21/22.

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • To study the effects of long-term exposure in space flight on gene expression and mineral metabolism in human hair.


  • 5 pieces of hair with hair root from an ISS crew will be collected. These two analyses are 1) Nucleic Acids (RNA and mitochondrial DNA) and 2) Trace Element in the hair shaft.


  • We can determine stress levels on the human body and metabolic conditions caused by microgravity environment and cosmic radiation.

Description
We believe by examining human hair, we can determine stress levels and metabolic conditions of a human caused by the microgravity environment and cosmic radiation. The purpose of the Biomedical Analyses of Human Hair Exposed to a Long-term Space Flight (Hair) investigation is to study the effects of a long-term exposure in space flight on gene expression and mineral metabolism in human hair.

This is the first experiment to examine the effect of a long-term exposure in space flight on human hair. Hair matrix cells actively divide in a hair follicle, and they sensitively reflect physical conditions. The hair shaft has an advantage in that it keeps the record of changes in the metabolic condition of a subject caused by the environments he/she has been in. These samples give us useful physiological information to examine the effect of a space flight on a human. In space experiments, hair is one of the most suitable specimens because there are no special requirements for utilizing hardware and handling.

In this experiment, we plan two analyses of human hair from ISS crews:

  • Nucleic acids (RNA and mitochondrial DNA) will be extracted from the collected hair roots, and we will analyze the gene expression change during the space flight. The extracted total RNA will be analyzed by DNA microarray technique, and we will examine the space flight effect on the gene expression level. And we also analyze the mitochondrial DNA to examine the multiple effects of microgravity and cosmic radiation on the copy number of mitochondrial DNA. Stress-related genes and oxidative stress genes and immune system-related genes are analyzed by real- time PCR.


  • We will analyze the minerals (Na, K, Ca) and a trace element mercury (Hg) in the hair shaft from ISS crews to examine the trace element metabolism in human body using the method of energy-dispersive analysis of X-rays. As a result, it was possible to analyze the amount of minerals contained in the hair shaft in the order of a day-to-day or week-to-week basis.

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Applications

Space Applications
In space experiments, hair is one of the most suitable specimens, for there are neither special hardware nor handling necessary to collect samples and retrieve them from the orbit. The research is expected to support the development of an effective and easy diagnostic measure for ISS crew.

Earth Applications
The results obtained from this research will facilitate the understanding of the relations between human metabolism and hair. The research is expected to support the development of alternative diagnostic methods for blood or urine tests.

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Operations

Operational Requirements and Protocols
During this experiment, 5 strands of hair with hair roots will be collected a total of six times (twice in preflight, twice inflight, twice in postflight periods) for each subject. This experiment requires at least 5 strands of hair with hair roots; however, hair sampling will be terminated after collecting 10 strands of hair even if less than 5 hair roots have been obtained.
The operator crewmember will pluck 5 strands of hair from a subject crew using tweezers. Then, the operator crew will collect 5 strands of hair with hair roots in a Hair Sampling Holder and stow it in MELFI at -80℃.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

The Biomedical Analyses of Human Hair Exposed to a Long-term Space Flight (Hair) investigation examined the effect of long duration spaceflight on gene expression and trace element metabolism in the human body by analyzing human hair. This investigation pioneers the study of gene expression changes in astronauts at multiple time points in spaceflight. Actively dividing hair root cells can reveal a person’s physical health, while the hair shaft can record the metabolic conditions of a person’s living environment.

Hair samples that were collected from 10 crewmembers on the ISS showed increases in FGF18 and ANGPTL gene expression, which are genes usually associated with a temporary arrest in the hair growth cycle. Interestingly, females had a more stable expression of FGF18 than males in space, suggesting that female astronauts appear in this case to have a better response against the environmental effects of spaceflight. Some crewmembers also showed an increase in the expression of PCDH8, which could be a stress response, and on Earth, a loss of PCDH8 is known to promote oncogenesis in epithelial human cancers by disrupting cell to cell communication.
 
Contrary to FGF18 and ANGPTL, the expression of other genes (e.g.,MnSOD, CuZnSOD, Nrf2, Keap1, GPx4, and Catalase) involved in redux and signal transduction is reduced in postflight hair samples. Additional analyses examining mitochondrial DNA from cells in hair bulbs have shown that the ratio of mitochondrial DNA to nuclear DNA is reduced from preflight to postflight samples. Though it is not yet clear whether spaceflight actually does have a direct effect on hair growth, the results of this investigation suggest that spaceflight negatively affects human hair follicle gene expression.
 
 

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Results Publications

    Terada M, Seki M, Takahashi R, Yamada S, Higashibata A, Majima HJ, Sudoh M, Mukai C, Ishioka N.  Effects of a closed space environment on gene expression in hair follicles of astronauts in the International Space Station. PLOS ONE. 2016 March 30; 11(3): e0150801. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0150801. PMID: 27029003. [Correction Terada M, Seki M, Takahashi R, Yamada S, Higashibata A, Majima HJ, Sudoh M, Mukai C, Ishioka N. Effects of a closed space environment on gene expression in hair follicles of astronauts in the International Space Station. PLOS ONE. 2016 May 18; 11(5): e0156190. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0156190. PMID: 27192056.  ]

    Indo HP, Majima HJ, Terada M, Suenaga S, Tomita K, Yamada S, Higashibata A, Ishioka N, Kanekura T, Nonaka I, Hawkins CL, Davies MJ, St Clair DK, Mukai C.  Changes in mitochondrial homeostasis and redox status in astronauts following long stays in space. Scientific Reports. 2016 December 16; 6: 39015. DOI: 10.1038/srep39015. PMID: 27982062.

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Ground Based Results Publications

    Terada M, Kawano F, Ishioka N, Higashibata A, Majima HJ, Yamazaki TQ, Watanabe-Asaka T, Niihori M, Nakao R, Yamada S, Mukai C, Ohira Y.  Biomedical analysis of rat body hair after hindlimb suspension for 14 days. Acta Astronautica. 2012 April; 73: 23-29. DOI: 10.1016/j.actaastro.2011.12.016.

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ISS Patents

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Related Publications

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Related Websites

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Imagery

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NASA Image: ISS033E018803 - Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide,Expedition 33 flight engineer, prepares to take hair samples for the JAXA Biomedical Analyses of Human Hair Exposed to a Long-term Space Flight (Hair) experiment.

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image Hair Sampling Holder. Image courtesy of JAXA.
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image Hair shaft analysis. Image courtesy of JAXA.
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image NASA Image: JSC2009E284975 - Image of stowage hardware from Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Bench Review (BR) 1. This image set contains contents of bags to be stowed in the Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) EXPRESS Rack 7 (ER-7) (Port Bay 3), Resupply Stowage Rack (RSR) serial number (S/N): 0002 (Port Bay 4), and Aft End Cone (AEC). View of L134 (RSR, P4_G2): JAXA Hair Sampling Kit. Part number (P/N): HSK-1. Serial number (S/N): 002.
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image Hair collection. Image courtesy of JAXA.
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