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Daily life aboard the International Space Station moves fast. Really fast. Traveling at approximately 17,000 miles per hour, 300 miles above the Earth, astronauts watch 16 sunrises and sunsets every “day” while floating around in a box with a handful of people they depend on for survival.

国际空间站上的日常生活节奏很快,非常快。宇航员们以每小时17000英里的速度在离地球300英里的高空飞行,“每天”都要观看16次日出和日落,与他们赖以生存的少数人一起漂浮在一个舱体里。

One need look no further than Hollywood blockbusters like “The Martian,” “Gravity” and “Interstellar” for futuristic visions of life beyond Earth as we venture longer and deeper into outer space. But what about the human body’s response to real-life spaceflight – what are the health effects? Will space travelers age at different rates than those of us on Earth? Just how adaptable to the space environment are we?

只要看看好莱坞大片《火星救援》、《地心引力》和《星际穿越》就知道了,随着我们向外太空探索的时间越来越长,探索的深度也越来越深,我们可以看到关于地球以外生活的未来愿景。但是,人体对现实太空飞行的反应如何呢?对健康有什么影响?太空旅行者的衰老速度会和我们地球上的人不同吗?我们对太空环境的适应性如何?



The NASA TWINS Study represents the most comprehensive view of the human body’s response to space flight ever conducted. Results will guide future studies and personalized approaches for uating health effects of individual astronauts for years to come.

美国国家航空航天局的双胞胎研究代表了人类对太空飞行反应的最全面的看法。研究结果将指导未来的研究和评估宇航员个人健康影响的个性化方法。

As a cancer biologist at Colorado State University I study the impact of radiation exposure on human cells. As part of the TWINS Study, I was particularly interested in uating how the ends of the chromosomes, called telomeres, were altered by a year in space.

作为科罗拉多州立大学的癌症生物学家,我研究了辐射对人体细胞的影响。作为双胞胎研究的一部分,我特别感兴趣的是评估染色体的末端,称为端粒,是如何在一年太空中被改变的。

Teasing apart health effects of space living

分析太空生活对健康的影响

NASA put out a call and selected 10 peer-reviewed investigations from around the country for the TWINS Study. Studies included molecular, physiological and behavioral measures, and for the first time ever in astronauts, “omics”-based studies. Some teams uated the impact of space on the genome – the entire complement of DNA in a cell (genomics). Other teams examined which genes were turned on and producing a molecule called mRNA (transcriptomics). Some studies focused on how chemical modifications – which do not alter the DNA code – affected the regulation of the genes (epigenomics). Some researchers explored the proteins produced in the cells (proteomics), whereas others scrutinized the products of metabolism (metabolomics).

美国国家航空航天局发出呼吁,从全国各地挑选了10项经过同行评议的调查,进行双胞胎研究。研究包括分子、生理和行为测量,并首次在宇航员中进行基于“组学”的研究。一些团队评估了空间对基因组的影响——细胞中DNA的全部补体(基因组学)。其他研究小组研究了哪些基因被激活并产生了一种叫做mRNA的分子(转录组学)。一些研究集中在化学修饰(不改变DNA代码)如何影响基因的调控(表观基因组学)。一些研究人员研究细胞中产生的蛋白质(蛋白质组学),而另一些研究人员则研究代谢产物(代谢组学)。



Even so, the question of spaceflight-associated aging and the accompanying risk of developing age-related diseases like dementia, cardiovascular disease and cancer – during or after a mission – is an important one, and one that we aimed to address directly with our study of telomere length.

即便如此,在执行任务期间或之后,与航天飞行相关的衰老问题以及伴随而来的罹患老年痴呆症、心血管疾病和癌症等与年龄相关疾病的风险,仍然是一个重要问题,我们的目标是通过对端粒长度的研究直接解决这个问题。

Telomeres are the ends of chromosomes that protect them from damage and from “fraying” – much like the end of a shoestring. Telomeres are critical for maintaining chromosome and genome stability. However, telomeres naturally shorten as our cells divide, and so also as we age. The rate at which telomeres shorten over time is influenced by many factors, including oxidative stress and inflammation, nutrition, physical activity, psychological stresses and environmental exposures like air pollution, UV rays and ionizing radiation. Thus, telomere length reflects an individual’s genetics, experiences and exposures, and so are informative indicators of general health and aging.

端粒是染色体的末端,保护它们免受损伤和“磨损”——很像鞋带的末端。端粒对于维持染色体和基因组的稳定性至关重要。然而,端粒会随着细胞分裂而自然缩短,随着年龄的增长也会如此。端粒随时间缩短的速度受到许多因素的影响,包括氧化应激和炎症、营养、身体活动、心理压力以及空气污染、紫外线和电离辐射等环境暴露。因此,端粒长度反映了一个人的基因、经历和暴露程度,也反映了一般健康和衰老的信息指标。

Telomeres and aging

端粒和衰老

Our study proposed that the unique stresses and out-of-this-world exposures the astronauts experience during spaceflight – things like isolation, microgravity, high carbon dioxide levels and galactic cosmic rays – would accelerate telomere shortening and aging. To test this, we uated telomere length in blood samples received from both twins before, during and after the one year mission.

我们的研究表明,宇航员在太空飞行中所经历的独特的压力和外界的暴露——比如隔离、微重力、高二氧化碳水平和银河宇宙射线——会加速端粒缩短和老化。为了测试这一点,我们评估了双胞胎在执行任务前、中、后一年的血液样本中的端粒长度。



The long-term health effects of long duration spaceflight are yet to be determined, but the TWINS Study represents a landmark step in humankind’s journey to the moon, Mars and beyond…and to making science fiction science fact.

长时间的太空飞行对健康的长期影响还有待确定,但双胞胎的研究代表着人类在月球、火星和更远的地方旅行的里程碑式的一步……并使科幻小说成为科学事实。