The researchers took whole blood samples from the astronauts twice — ten days before spaceflight and on the day of landing — and white blood cells only once three days after landing.Above: Official portrait of longtime astronaut Scott Kelly of Expedition 45/46

NASA astronauts’ blood shows signs of DNA mutation from spaceflight and must be monitored

Astronauts’ blood can show signs of DNA mutations after spaceflight, so their cancer risk should be monitored, a new study shows.

The 14 astronauts from NASA’s space shuttle program who flew an average of 12 days of space shuttle missions between 1998 and 2001 participated in the study: 85 percent were men, and six of them were first-time missionaries for the space agency.

The researchers took whole blood samples from the astronauts twice — ten days before spaceflight and on the day of landing — and white blood cells only once three days after landing. The samples were placed in a freezer at minus 112 degrees Fahrenheit and hadn’t been touched in 20 years.

“As astronauts work in extreme environments, many factors can lead to somatic mutations, most importantly space radiation, which means that these mutations have the potential to develop into clonal hematopoiesis,” said David Gukasin, lead author of the study. Said he was a professor of cardiology in the United States. The Icahn Mount Sinai Cardiovascular Institute in New York said in a statement.

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The researchers took whole blood samples from the astronauts twice — ten days before spaceflight and on the day of landing — and white blood cells only once three days after landing.Above: Official portrait of longtime astronaut Scott Kelly of Expedition 45/46

“Given the growing interest in commercial spaceflight and deep space exploration, and the potential health risks of exposure to a variety of detrimental factors associated with repetitive or long-duration exploratory space missions, such as trips to Mars, we decided to explore, retrospectively, somatic mutation,” explains Goukassian

“Given the growing interest in commercial spaceflight and deep space exploration, and the potential health risks of exposure to a variety of detrimental factors associated with repetitive or long-duration exploratory space missions, such as trips to Mars, we decided to explore, retrospectively, somatic mutation,” explains Goukassian.

Somatic mutations occur in cells other than sperm or egg cells after a person is conceived, meaning they cannot be passed on to offspring.

The mutation identified in the study is characterized by an excess of blood cells from a single clone, a process known as clonal hematopoiesis. Different blood cancers, including chronic myeloid leukemia, are examples of clonal hematopoiesis.

The scientists used DNA sequencing and bioinformatics analysis to identify 34 mutations in 17 CH driver genes.

The mutation identified in the study is characterized by an excess of blood cells from a single clone, a process known as clonal hematopoiesis.Different blood cancers, including chronic myeloid leukemia, are examples of clonal hematopoiesis

The mutation identified in the study is characterized by an excess of blood cells from a single clone, a process known as clonal hematopoiesis.Different blood cancers, including chronic myeloid leukemia, are examples of clonal hematopoiesis

“The presence of these mutations does not necessarily mean that astronauts will develop cardiovascular disease or cancer, but over time this may occur through sustained and prolonged exposure to the extreme environments of deep space,” added Goukassian

The most common mutations occur in TP3, a gene that produces tumor suppressor proteins, and DNMT3A, one of the most commonly mutated genes in acute myeloid leukemia.

Although the mutation rate was high compared to the astronaut’s age, the researchers said it was still below a worrisome threshold.

“The presence of these mutations does not necessarily mean that astronauts will develop cardiovascular disease or cancer, but over time this may occur through sustained and prolonged exposure to the extreme environments of deep space,” added Goukassian Say.

As NASA accelerates its long-delayed Artemis program to put American boots on the lunar surface for the first time in 50 years, these types of astronaut health observations will be key to future successful flights to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

As NASA accelerates its long-delayed Artemis program to put American boots on the lunar surface for the first time in 50 years, these types of astronaut health observations will be key to future spaceflight success

As NASA accelerates its long-delayed Artemis program to put American boots on the lunar surface for the first time in 50 years, these types of astronaut health observations will be key to future spaceflight success

The researchers demonstrated that they could conduct such studies to examine astronauts’ susceptibility to disease without affecting their ability to work. The study was published Aug. 31 in Nature Communications Biology.

They recommend that NASA and its medical team screen astronauts for somatic mutations and possible clonal expansion or regression every three to five years, and after they retire — at which point these types of mutations may expand.

“It is now important to conduct longitudinal retrospective and well-controlled prospective studies involving large numbers of astronauts to understand how this risk evolves based on continued exposure, and then to correlate these data with their clinical symptoms, imaging and laboratory The results are compared,” said Gucasian.

“This will allow us to make informed predictions about who is more likely to develop disease based on what we see, and open the door to personalized precision medicine approaches for early intervention and prevention.”

The work comes two months after a study showed that astronauts who participated in spaceflights lasting more than three months showed signs of incomplete bone recovery even after a full year on Earth.

“The adverse effects of spaceflight on skeletal tissue can be profound,” the study’s opening statement said.

“We found that most astronauts have only partially recovered their weight-bearing bones after a year of spaceflight,” Leigh Gabel, assistant professor of kinesiology and lead author of the study, said in a statement.

“This suggests that the permanent bone loss from spaceflight is about the same as the decade-long age-related bone loss on Earth.”

The study, which began in 2017, tracked 17 astronauts for seven years before and after spaceflight to determine how bones recovered or did not recover after longer spaceflights.

The researchers traveled to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, to scan the wrists and ankles of astronauts before they headed to space.

One year after returning from long-duration spaceflight, most astronauts showed incomplete recovery of bone density, strength, and trabecular thickness in the distal end of the weight-bearing tibia.

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