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Project Title:  Effects of Lunar Dust Simulant on Human 3-D Biomimetic Intestinal Models, Enteric Microorganisms, and Infectious Disease Risks Reduce
Images: icon  Fiscal Year: FY 2024 
Division: Space Biology 
Research Discipline/Element:
Space Biology: Cell & Molecular Biology  
Start Date: 02/26/2024  
End Date: 02/25/2026  
Task Last Updated: 04/11/2024 
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Principal Investigator/Affiliation:   Nickerson, Cheryl A Ph.D. / Arizona State University 
Address:  Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology/The Biodesign Institute 
1001 S McAllister Avenue 
Tempe , AZ 85287-5401 
Phone: 480-727-7520  
Congressional District:
Organization Type: UNIVERSITY 
Organization Name: Arizona State University 
Joint Agency:  
Comments: NOTE PI moved from Tulane University to Arizona State University in 2006. 
Ott, C. Mark  Ph.D. NASA Johnson Space Center 
Scully, Robert  Ph.D. KBR WYLE SERVICES, LLC 
Yang, Jiseon  Ph.D. Arizona State University 
Barrila, Jennifer  Ph.D. Arizona State University 
Project Information: Grant/Contract No. 80NSSC24K0744 
Responsible Center: NASA ARC 
Grant Monitor: Griko, Yuri  
Center Contact: 650-604-0519 
Unique ID: 15945 
Solicitation / Funding Source: 2022 Space Biology NNH22ZDA001N-SBR: E.9 Space Biology Research Studies 
Grant/Contract No.: 80NSSC24K0744 
Project Type: Ground,NASA GeneLab 
Flight Program:  
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Space Biology Element: (1) Cell & Molecular Biology
Space Biology Cross-Element Discipline: None
Space Biology Special Category: (1) Cell Culture
Task Description: The objective of this proposal is to determine if exposure to lunar dust simulant will alter the characteristics of human intestinal cells and intestinal-relevant bacteria, both independently and during their interactions – in ways that could increase health risks. We will further evaluate if the combination of both lunar dust simulant and low shear modeled microgravity (LSMMG) culture of intestinal-associated bacteria could further alter their characteristics and interactions with human intestinal cells. We hypothesize that exposure to lunar regolith simulant will alter the phenotypic and molecular genetic characteristics of both human intestinal cells and intestinal-relevant bacteria. We further hypothesize that culture of a model enteric bacterial pathogen under LSMMG conditions, in combination with lunar dust simulant, will exacerbate the alterations observed for either stressor alone. To retain applicability of these findings for spaceflight applications, all microorganisms selected for this study have a direct route of access to the astronaut intestine (e.g., through food, water, air), and include isolates from the International Space Station (ISS) and other organisms with clear relevance to crew health.

Proposed Aims:

Aim 1. Characterize the impact of lunar dust simulants on the viability and pathobiology of 3-D biomimetic models of human intestine. Cytotoxicity, pathology, and inflammatory responses of 3-D models of human intestine will be profiled in the presence and absence of lunar dust simulants.

Aim 2. Characterize the impact of lunar dust simulants on phenotypic characteristics of pathogenic and commensal microorganisms associated with human spaceflight and the intestine.

Aim 2a: A high throughput screening approach will be applied using multi-well plates to profile a panel of intestinal-relevant bacteria (pathogens and commensals) for alterations in growth/viability in response to challenge with lunar dust simulants.

Aim 2b: The model enteric pathogen Salmonella typhimurium (S. typhimurium) will also be profiled for alterations in growth, acid resistance, and biofilm formation in response to the combined impact of dust simulants and LSMMG culture.

Aim 3. Characterize the impact of lunar dust simulants on the viability and pathobiology of 3-D biomimetic models of human intestine following challenge with a model enteric pathogen. Susceptibility of 3-D models to infection will be evaluated using S. typhimurium, a model pathogen previously shown to exhibit spaceflight – and LSMMG-induced alterations in virulence, 3-D intestinal infection profiles, pathogenesis-related stress responses, and multi-omics profiles. S. typhimurium will be cultured under LSMMG (with and without simulants) prior to addition to the 3-D model (with/without simulants). Cytotoxicity, inflammatory responses, colonization, and dual RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) of the host-pathogen interaction will be performed. We will also transcriptionally profile LSMMG-cultured S. typhimurium just prior to infection.

Research Impact/Earth Benefits: Knowledge from these studies will pioneer new scientific discoveries into the impact of lunar regolith simulants on human intestinal health and intestinal-relevant bacteria and enable space exploration through the discovery of potential astronaut health risks during deep space missions.

Task Progress & Bibliography Information FY2024 
Task Progress: New Project for FY2024

Bibliography: Description: (Last Updated: 06/05/2024) 

Show Cumulative Bibliography
 None in FY 2024