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Spaceflight decelerates the epigenetic clock orchestrated with a global alteration in DNA methylome and transcriptome in the mouse retina

By Zhong Chen, Seta Stanbouly, Nina C Nishiyama, Xin Chen, Michael D Delp, Hongyu Qiu, Xiao W Mao, Charles Wang

Posted 23 Oct 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.10.23.352658

Astronauts exhibit an assortment of clinical abnormalities in their eyes during long-duration spaceflight. The purpose of this study was to determine whether spaceflight induces epigenomic and transcriptomic reprogramming in the retina or alters the epigenetic clock. The mice were flown for 37 days in animal enclosure modules on the International Space Station; ground-based control animals were maintained under similar housing conditions. Mouse retinas were isolated and both DNA methylome and transcriptome were determined by deep sequencing. We found that a large number of genes were differentially methylated with spaceflight, whereas there were fewer differentially expressed genes at the transcriptome level. Several biological pathways involved in retinal diseases such as macular degeneration were significantly altered. Our results indicated that spaceflight decelerated the retinal epigenetic clock. This study demonstrates that spaceflight impacts the retina at the epigenomic and transcriptomic levels, and such changes could be involved in the etiology of eye-related disorders among astronauts. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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