Just two weeks spent in orbit may be enough for the structure of the eye and gene expression to undergo significant changes. Such conclusions were made by researchers from the Johnson Space Center, NASA and colleagues from two other institutes.
During the experiment, scientists exposed the rodents to low gravity, radiation and a variety of oxidative damage. This was the first study aimed at gene expression, which is associated with vision, and the study of the behavior of cells after a flight into space.
“There have been many changes in gene expression that help cells fight oxidative stress in the retina, which is likely due to radiation exposure,” said pathologist and research team leader Patricia Chevez-Barrios. According to her, it became known that upon returning to Earth, some functions were partially restored. Irreversible changes in the optic nerves, which are comparable to mechanical damage, changes in the expression of restoration of damaged DNA genes and apoptotic pathways that help the human body to destroy irreversibly damaged cells were also revealed.
In their conclusions, scientists refer to a study that was conducted on 18 mice, divided into 9 groups with different conditions. Since the space on orbital missions is strictly limited.
Shevez-Barrios said that the results can be considered preliminary. According to scientists, their reliability is based on what is known from early studies, which were aimed at structural changes and harm caused by oxidative stress, as well as changes in the eyes of astronauts who returned to Earth. “But to confirm the results, additional experiments will be needed,” said Shevez-Barrios.