Spaceflight modulates gene expression in the whole blood of astronauts

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Astronauts are exposed to a unique combination of stressors during spaceflight, which leads to alterations in their physiology and potentially increases their susceptibility to disease, including infectious diseases. To evaluate

Astronauts are exposed to a unique combination of stressors during spaceflight, which leads to alterations in their physiology and potentially increases their susceptibility to disease, including infectious diseases. To evaluate the potential impact of the spaceflight environment on the regulation of molecular pathways mediating cellular stress responses, we performed a first-of-its-kind pilot study to assess spaceflight-related gene-expression changes in the whole blood of astronauts. Using an array comprised of 234 well-characterized stress-response genes, we profiled transcriptomic changes in six astronauts (four men and two women) from blood preserved before and immediately following the spaceflight. Differentially regulated transcripts included those important for DNA repair, oxidative stress, and protein folding/degradation, including HSP90AB1, HSP27, GPX1, XRCC1, BAG-1, HHR23A, FAP48, and C-FOS. No gender-specific differences or relationship to number of missions flown was observed. This study provides a first assessment of transcriptomic changes occurring in the whole blood of astronauts in response to spaceflight.