Spaceflight has several detrimental effects on the physiology of astronauts, many of which are recapitulated in rodent models. Mouse studies performed on the Space Shuttle showed disruption of lipid metabolism in liver. However, given that these animals were not sacrificed on-orbit and instead returned live to earth, it is unclear if these disruptions were solely induced by space stressors (e.g. microgravity, space radiation) or in part explained by the stress of return to Earth. In this work we analyzed three liver datasets from two different strains of mice (C57BL/6 (Jackson) & BALB/c (Taconic)) flown aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Notably, these animals were sacrificed on-orbit and exposed to varying spaceflight durations (i.e. 21, 37, and 42 days vs 13 days for the Shuttle mice). Oil Red O (ORO) staining showed abnormal lipid accumulation in all space-flown mice compared to ground controls regardless of strain or exposure duration. Similarly, transcriptomic analysis by RNA-sequencing revealed several pathways that were affected in both strains related to increased lipid metabolism, fatty acid metabolism, lipid and fatty acid processing, lipid catabolic processing, and lipid localization. In addition, key upstream regulators were predicted to be commonly regulated across all conditions including Glucagon (GCG) and Insulin (INS). Moreover, quantitative proteomic analysis showed that a number of lipid related proteins were changed in the livers during spaceflight. Taken together, these data indicate that activation of lipotoxic pathways are the result of space stressors alone and this activation occurs in various genetic backgrounds during spaceflight exposures of weeks to months. If similar responses occur in humans, a prolonged change of these pathways may result in the development of liver disease and should be investigated further.
- lipid dysregulation
- Space Biology