Research: Microgravity and Partial Gravity Effects on Hepatic Organoid Steatosis and Function
Institution: University of California, San Francisco
Project dates: Aug. 1, 2020 - July 31, 2022
NASA Risk Addressed: Risk of adverse health outcomes and decrements in performance due to inflight medical conditions (Medical)
Project: Increasing evidence suggests that microgravity may induce detrimental effects on liver function, a serious risk for humans undertaking space exploration. To investigate this possibility, Dr. Sekyi’s lab proposed the assessment of liver organoid response to microgravity and partial gravity conditions. Liver organoids are three-dimensional aggregates of hepatocyte, endothelial, and mesenchymal stem cells commonly used as a model for liver function and organogenesis. Through the use of histology to investigate cellular morphology, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays for quantification of secreted proteins, and RNA-sequencing to evaluate changes in gene expression, Dr. Sekyi will quantify organoid response to up to 15 days of culture under altered gravitational conditions. Other readouts will include stress response to glucose or acetaminophen overdose. The proposed research is significant to TRISH and NASA's interests in establishing a sustained human presence on the moon and Mars because it will define the hepatic health risks associated with microgravity during space exploration. As maintaining liver health is integral to maintaining human health, characterization of the effect of the gravitational perturbation on liver function and metabolism is crucial to the progression of these endeavors.