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Countermeasures for Space Radiation-Induced Myeloid Leukemia

Principal Investigator:
Ann R. Kennedy, D.Sc.

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Exposure to the types of radiation that exist in space is potentially cancer-causing. Previous studies have demonstrated that certain dietary supplements can be effective in preventing radiation-induced stress and protecting cultured human cells against adverse biological effects induced by the types of radiation known to exist during space travel. In this animal study, Dr. Ann R. Kennedy is researching the efficacy of a combination of these nutritional supplements as a countermeasure against space radiation-induced acute myeloid leukemia in order to provide critical information about the ability of nutritional supplements to increase resistance to space radiation-induced malignancy.

NASA Taskbook Entry

Technical Summary

This project investigated mechanisms to resist malignancy in space with an emphasis on evaluation of certain nutritional supplements as countermeasures to protect against space radiation-induced leukemogenesis; these nutritional supplements include L-selenomethionine (SeM), vitamin C, vitamin E succinate, alpha-lipoic acid, Co-enzyme Q10 and N-acetylcysteine. Data obtained from our previous in vitro and animal studies supported by the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) have demonstrated that the nutritional supplements evaluated in this research project are effective in preventing radiation-induced oxidative stress and protecting cultured human cells against adverse biological effects induced by the types of radiation of most concern during space travel, i.e., highly energetic heavy charged particles (known as HZE particles) and protons. This investigation determined the efficacy of nutritional supplements as countermeasures against space radiation-induced leukemogenesis using the CBA mouse model system. Two, two-year animal experiments were performed to determine the effect of the supplement combination on the development of leukemogenesis in CBA mice exposed to radiation with HZE particles (1-GeV/nucleon iron ions) or protons. In addition, several short-term animal and cell culture experiments were performed to determine the effects of radiation treatment and nutritional supplementation on selected surrogate endpoint biomarkers (SEBs), which are the host bio-reduction capacity measured as plasma total antioxidant status and OXR1 gene expression in selected populations of white blood cells. The results of this study have provided critical information about the feasibility and mechanism(s) of nutritional supplements in increasing the resistance to space radiation-induced malignancy.

Earth Applications

People living on Earth are exposed to higher than normal doses of radiation from a variety of sources and for a variety of reasons. It is expected that the countermeasures being developed as part of this NSBRI research project will be equally useful for the protection of people on Earth from the expected adverse effects of exposure to ionizing radiation.

This project's funding ended in 2007