PloS one

Effect of spaceflight on the circadian rhythm, lifespan and gene expression of Drosophila melanogaster.

PMID 25798821


Space travelers are reported to experience circadian rhythm disruption during spaceflight. However, how the space environment affects circadian rhythm is yet to be determined. The major focus of this study was to investigate the effect of spaceflight on the Drosophila circadian clock at both the behavioral and molecular level. We used China's Shenzhou-9 spaceship to carry Drosophila. After 13 days of spaceflight, behavior tests showed that the flies maintained normal locomotor activity rhythm and sleep pattern. The expression level and rhythm of major clock genes were also unaffected. However, expression profiling showed differentially regulated output genes of the circadian clock system between space flown and control flies, suggesting that spaceflight affected the circadian output pathway. We also investigated other physiological effects of spaceflight such as lipid metabolism and lifespan, and searched genes significantly affected by spaceflight using microarray analysis. These results provide new information on the effects of spaceflight on circadian rhythm, lipid metabolism and lifespan. Furthermore, we showed that studying the effect of spaceflight on gene expression using samples collected at different Zeitgeber time could obtain different results, suggesting the importance of appropriate sampling procedures in studies on the effects of spaceflight.