Undergrad publishes a theory about immune dysfunction in space


Undergrad ينشر نظرية حول الخلل المناعي في الفضاء Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology (2022). DOI: 10.3389 / fcell.2022.997365″ width=”782″ height=”530″/>

credit: Rocky Ann, Frontiers in Cellular and Developmental Biology (2022). DOI: 10.3389 / fcell.2022.997365

It has been known for decades that although astronauts’ immune systems become suppressed in space, leaving them susceptible to disease, the exact mechanisms of immune dysfunction have remained a mystery. Now, an undergraduate student at Cornell University has found a potential solution.


Rocky Ann, a double major in biological and mechanical engineering in the College of Engineering, published his theory, “MRTF may be the missing link in a multiscale mechanobiology approach to macrophage dysfunction in space,” Sept. 12 in Frontiers in Cellular and Developmental Biology.

The past 20 years of literature on macrophage behavior – key cells in the body’s immune response – have been reviewed in space and recent research on how macrophages respond to natural gravitational forces, identifying a transcription factor that could be the missing piece of the puzzle.

“I kept asking questions about how to present the data,” Ann said. “There are two really important papers, in particular, one is a review of how macrophages suppress in microgravity, and the other is on the mechanical biology of macrophages. I was able to connect those two papers, and that’s when the idea came to me. He was really excited, because it was kind of like ‘Eureka!’ “A moment for me.”

In space, the lack of gravity changes the shape of the immune cell, and scientists suspect that the shape of the immune cell changes cytoskeletonthe filamentous substructure of the cell, implicated in weak immunity. Recent studies in normal gravity have shown that disruption of the macrophage cytoskeleton reduces the transport of a specific protein, an important transcription factor for the immune response, into the nucleus.

By comparing cell studies in microgravity and analyzing study patterns and associated timelines—whether macrophages It’s already been studied in space, on an equivalent plane, or in microgravity simulations in the lab–it was able to point to a protein, Myocardin-associated transcription factor (MRTF), as a possible culprit in the weakened immune system.

“I think it’s a very compelling argument that the MRTF is a big part of the problem,” Ann said. “I hope it will inspire future studies that really focus on that protein and the cytoskeleton, and may be the first step towards a space flights Immunotherapy”.

The paper suggests that the MRTF could be involved in stressing Cardiovascular health astronauts as well. A also points to other factors that may play a role in immune dysfunction and notes that more research is needed to understand how MRTF interacts with macrophage nuclei in microgravity.

While An worked independently on the publication, he credits his Cornell professors (including Mingming Wu, professor, and Minglin Ma, associate professor, both biological and environmental engineering in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; Brian J. Kirby, Meinig family professor). engineering; and Donna Cassidy Hanley, senior research associate in the College of Veterinary Medicine, among many other educators) to model an interdisciplinary approach and encourage inquiry.

Even before enrolling at Cornell University, Anne had been in contact with Theodore Clark, professor of microbiology and immunology at the College of Veterinary Medicine, where Anne had been involved in research since his freshman year. He also credits his experience on the Cornell iGEM (Genetically Engineered Machines) project team, with advice from Jan Lammerding, a professor at the Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering, for helping him develop as a scientist.

“The biggest help,” he said, “was from the professors and the way they taught my classes.” “And then with the research in the lab and my project team, there were plenty of opportunities to learn independently and ask our own questions.”

I also gained valuable summer internship experience. In 2021, he was selected as a Research Associate in NASA’s Space Life Science Training Program, where he studied the effect of microgravity on cells and Co-authored his first paperAn improved modeling framework for studying cells in microgravity.

Ann spent the summer of 2022 as an Amgen researcher at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute, working in mechanistic immunotherapy, exploring treatments that work by manipulating the structure of cells.

“I’ve always been interested in cells, but also mechanics, how cells reaction to the forces,” he said. I like this approach because it’s kind of new, and I think it’s very different from what you generally learn in biology, where everything is a series of chemical reactions. I really enjoy the interaction between the two domains.”


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more information:
Rocky An, MRTF may be the missing link in a multiscale mechanobiology approach to space macrophage dysfunction, Frontiers in Cellular and Developmental Biology (2022). DOI: 10.3389 / fcell.2022.997365

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the quote: Undergrad Publishes Theory of Immune Dysfunction in Space (2022, September 19) Retrieved September 19, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-09-undergrad-publishes-theory-immune-dysfunction.html

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