How a long stay in space changes the human body? NASA’s official test results on the twins
NASA has released the results of a study on how the human body behaves during long-term space habitation. The study involved two twin brothers – NASA astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly. One of them, Scott, was on the ISS for nearly a year, while the other was on Earth. Many of the genetic, biochemical and other changes that were observed in Scott during his time in space disappeared when he returned from Earth.
The research involved twin brothersow Scott and Mark Kelly. The project began in 2015. One of the brothers – Scott was sent to the International Space Station (ISS), while the other stayed on Earth. For a year, the brothers were regularly subjected to the same medical tests. This has given NASA the chance to porovation of the resultoIn Scott, whoory spent a year in space, with the results of Mark, whoory is a genetic copy of itself, but for that year it stayed in its natural habitat, namely on Earth.
Humans have been flying into space for more than po³ age, but we still know little about how our bodies will behave during a long stay in space. When three years ago Scott Kelly wrohe came to Earth, he was 2 centimeters taller. His body weight also changed, his gut bacteria were completely different, his telomeres lengthened and the expression of his gene also changedow.
The results from the groundbreaking twin studyow from NASA were published in the journal „Science”. An integrated paper covering the work of 10 teamsow research reveals interesting data on how theob the human body adapted to the extreme environment of space, and how, after returning to Earth, Scott’s body reocials to their previous state.
Since the study involves only two people, the results are unlikely to be widely applicable to other astronautsow. But NASA hopes to use the information to develop astronaut health testing proceduresow and to plan future experimentsow. Understanding how theob the human body’s response to spaceflight in the long term, will be crucial to maintaining astronautow in health during planned long manned missions, such as a mission to Mars.
For decades, scientists have been studying how toob space environment with low gravity and high radiation affects the human body. With Scott and Mark Kelly, NASA was given an unprecedented opportunity to porownanie dwoch osob with nearly identical genetic information and similar life experiences.
Scott was in space for 340 days on the International Space Station during the study, but his total number of days spent in space is 520. Mark was in space for only 54 days, which consisted of four relatively krotic flights on the space shuttle.
For 25 months, ten teamsoin the study subjected the brothers romany tests. Scott and Mark were surveyed before, during and after Scott’s mission. Rohe difference was that Mark on Earth ate, drank and did whatever he wanted, while Scott was subjected to a strict diet and exercise regime aboard the space station.
– The study of the twins is the most comprehensive investigation into the human body’s response to spaceflight that we have ever had the chance to complete – said Susan Bailey of Colorado State University.
– This study was an important step toward understanding epigenetics and gene expressionoin space,” said J.D. NASA’s Polk. – Thanks to the Kelly brothers and the researchers, the valuable data collected from the study helped us realize the huge role of personalized medicine in maintaining healthy astronautsow during deep space exploration – added.
The findings indicate changes in the expression of genow, immune system responses, telomeric dynamicsoin whether changes in cognitive function. Many of the findings are consistent with data collected in previous studies and other ongoing research.
The first thing the scientists observed was the elongation of telomeresoin white blood cells in a spaceborne twin. Telomeres are the final fragment of a chromosome, whichorego’s function is to protect it from damage during copying. With each copying, telomeres become circularotsze. Under normal conditions, telomeres shorten with age, but after a year in space, Scott’s telomeres had clearly grown.
Researchers believe that the longer a person’s telomeres, the more likely he or she is to avoid the most unpleasant consequences of theoin aging and will become poSo. Telomere elongation observed by researchersow while being in space for a year can be called something of a rejuvenation of the body. However, as the results showed, enough poł year on Earth to make Scott’s telomeres returnocated to normal, someore of them even became krotsze. His brother’s telomeres remained stable throughout the study period. Because telomeres are important for the genomic stability of comorek, additional studies of telomere dynamicsow are planned for future missions to see if the results are reproducible.
The second key finding is that Scott’s immune system responded appropriately while in space. For example, a flu vaccine administered in space worked exactly as it did on Earth. A fully functioning immune system during long-duration space missions is crucial to protecting astronaut healthow against opportunistic microbes in the spacecraft environment.
The third major finding is the variation in gene expressionoin, ktora reflects howob, how an organism responds to the environment in which itorym resides. It gives an indication ofow scientists howob gene expressionow can affect the body during long-term flightsoin space.
While in space, scientists observed just such changes in Scott. And while most of the comebacksociated to normal after six months on Earth, is a small percentage of the genoin connection with the immune system and DNA repair does not returnocial to the initial state. In the study, scientists identified these genes. They are to be the subject of further research.
– During the flightoIn space, a number of physiological changes occur and the comorkowe,” said Jennifer Fogarty, head of theowny scientist of the Human Research Program at NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston. She acknowledged that this is very important work, but added that this is only the beginning of research into the behavior of the human body in space.
– This study has given us the first molecular insight into genetic changes and demonstrated howob The human body adapts to being in space and remains strong and resilient even after spending almost a year aboard the International Space Station. Data collected during this experiment will be studied for many years – added Fogarty.
Above the publication in „Science” A total of 82 scientists workedow of 12 universitiesow. Their work was coordinated by scientistsoin from NASA’s Human Research Program.