Microgravity accelerates red blood cell aging

Red blood cells in simulated microgravity alter their metabolic processes and show signs of exacerbated aging

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A research team led by Marco Girasole, of Italy’s Istituto di Struttura della Materia, evaluated the response of red blood cells to simulated microgravity, finding a range of metabolic aberrations resulting from a shift in the environment sensed by the cells.

The team assayed the change in morphological properties, cellular resource management, and biological stress levels of red blood cells that were continuously rotated in three dimensions to nullify the effects of gravity.

The results showed that, compared to controls, simulated microgravity induced a faster expenditure of the cellular resources for proper function, including the maintenance of hemoglobin—the body’s sole oxygen transporter. The cells also suffered earlier, more significant structural damage during aging. The research also revealed that under conditions of shortage, red blood cells prioritize the preservation of hemoglobin over their cellular structure.


Read the full paper at Scientific Reports

Kristopher James Kent

Freelance journalist, kriskent.co.uk

I'm a freelance writer and journalist who produces content for Nature, the Nature Partner Journals, and magazines from international universities and government science institutes. I write across a broad range of science topics, though my primary interests lie within medical science, science policy, disability, and mental health.