Longevity Briefs: The Effects of Space Travel on Stress and Ageing

Posted on 9 September 2020

Longevity briefs provides a short summary of a novel research, medicine, or technology that caught the attention of our researchers in Oxford, due to its potential to improve our health, wellbeing, and longevity.

Why is this research important: Space travel exposes the body to an extreme environment with unique forms of stress. Understanding how organisms respond to space travel will help us mitigate these stressors, allowing humans to stay in space for longer and explore further.

What did the researchers do: Researchers sent mice for a 31 day stay at the international space station (ISS). These mice were modified to lack the Nrf2 gene, a master regulator of the body’s defence against stress. After safely returning to earth, they studied the mice’s gene expression and metabolism to understand how space travel affected their stress response.

Key takeaway(s) from this research: The stresses of space travel caused changes in plasma metabolites similar to those observed in ageing. Nrf2 signalling pathways were activated by space travel. Nrf2 appears to be important in controlling fat tissue maintenance in response to stress, and contributes to weight gain by mice due to space travel.

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