MicroAge I

In December 2021, our UKSA-sponsored project ‘MicroAge: Microgravity as a model for accelerated skeletal muscle ageing’ was launched to the International Space Station.

MicroAge Mission

Before they were sent to space, lab-grown muscles the size of a grain of rice, were placed into specially-manufactured containers which functioned as miniature laboratories. The containers were able to provide oxygen and nutrients to the cells during the experiment, in addition to electrically stimulating the muscles to contact, mimicking exercise.

The experiment aimed to piece together how the muscles responded to exercise in microgravity and how this relates to age-related loss of muscle mass on earth.

The muscle samples from the mission are currently being analysed back here in Liverpool, but it is already clear from preliminary data that the exposure of muscle to microgravity dramatically influences the muscle at rest and the molecular responses to exercise – both in a negative manner.

A considerable amount our data points toward changes in muscle mitochondria - small structures within cells that are responsible for generating the energy – as being key regulators of these changes.


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