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Project Title:  Alterations in Energy Metabolism Pathways in Skeletal Muscle in Relation to Microgravity Analog and Space Radiation Reduce
Images: icon  Fiscal Year: FY 2023 
Division: Human Research 
Research Discipline/Element:
HRP HHC:Human Health Countermeasures
Start Date: 01/09/2023  
End Date: 01/08/2024  
Task Last Updated: 02/16/2023 
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Principal Investigator/Affiliation:   Laiakis, Evagelia  Ph.D. / Georgetown University 
Address:  Department of Oncology 
3970 Reservoir Rd NW, NRB E504 
Washington , DC 20007-2126 
Phone: 202-687-3114  
Congressional District:
Organization Type: UNIVERSITY 
Organization Name: Georgetown University 
Joint Agency:  
Beheshti, Afshin  Ph.D. NASA Ames Research Center 
Project Information: Grant/Contract No. 80NSSC23K0366 
Responsible Center: NASA JSC 
Grant Monitor: Stenger, Michael  
Center Contact: 281-483-1311 
Unique ID: 15365 
Solicitation / Funding Source: 2020 HERO 80JSC020N0001-FLAGSHIP, OMNIBUS1 Human Research Program: Crew Health Appendix A; Omnibus1-Appendix B 
Grant/Contract No.: 80NSSC23K0366 
Project Type: GROUND 
Flight Program:  
TechPort: No 
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Human Research Program Elements: (1) HHC:Human Health Countermeasures
Human Research Program Risks: None
Human Research Program Gaps: None
Task Description: Muscle atrophy is a well documented response to microgravity (µG) during short-term missions within low-Earth orbit (LEO). Recent studies have identified that low dose, charged-particle radiation characteristic of galactic cosmic rays (GCR) and high dose solar particle events (SPE) outside LEO damage skeletal muscles. This damage may deplete the energetic metabolic capacity of the tissue and impair astronaut performance. Thus, due to the combined challenges of µG and space radiation, countermeasures for muscle atrophy on long-duration missions outside LEO, other than daily exercise, need to be developed to preserve muscle mass and function. In collaboration with Jeffrey Willey, Ph.D., we analyzed muscle tissues (gastrocnemius, quadricep) from mice flown to the International Space Station, and identified significant perturbations in the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle and fatty acid beta-oxidation intermediates, among others. Importantly, pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5) exhibited significantly decreased levels – affecting multiple energy related metabolic pathways, as it serves as the precursor for coenzyme CoA, an important mediator for mitochondrial related metabolism. Radiation exposure can also lead to perturbations in energy metabolism that could be additive or synergistic with µG. We hypothesize that the space environment with ground based analogs (simulated µG via hindlimb unloading/HU and simulated space radiation) will lead to exacerbated alterations in intramuscular energy metabolism in mice, such as in the TCA cycle, fatty acid beta-oxidation, and cofactors, among others.

Research Impact/Earth Benefits:

Task Progress & Bibliography Information FY2023 
Task Progress: New project for FY2023.

Bibliography: Description: (Last Updated: ) 

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 None in FY 2023