Title

The Effect of Microgravity on the Reproductive Health of Female Astronauts

School Name

South Carolina Governor's School for Science & Mathematics

Grade Level

12th Grade

Presentation Topic

Physiology and Health

Presentation Type

Mentored

Abstract

In 1963 the first female astronaut was selected to launch into space on the Vostok 6 mission. However, it wasn't until the 1980s that women started being employed to space programs. Today the number of female astronauts has multiplied and scientists are now able to question how the outer space environment affects female astronaut reproduction. In our research, we looked for ways microgravity could affect a female astronaut's reproductive health. First, we isolated secondary ovarian follicles in vitro and encapsulated them in alginate. The purpose of alginate encapsulation is to ensure that the follicles maintained their structure and follicle-oocyte interaction. Once the follicles were encapsulated, they were placed inside a rotary cell culture system that simulated microgravity. The solid body rotation of the media in the apparatus offset the follicles' attraction to gravity resulting in a weightless free-fall effect like the outer space environment. The control group that grew outside the apparatus showed normal growth of a follicle, however, the follicles inside the apparatus fell out of the bead prior to imaging. Although the system supports follicle growth, and the rotary cell culture system has a lower follicle survival rate than the control group, further studies are required due to experimental issues.

Location

Furman Hall 201

Start Date

3-28-2020 9:15 AM

Presentation Format

Oral Only

Group Project

No

COinS
 
Mar 28th, 9:15 AM

The Effect of Microgravity on the Reproductive Health of Female Astronauts

Furman Hall 201

In 1963 the first female astronaut was selected to launch into space on the Vostok 6 mission. However, it wasn't until the 1980s that women started being employed to space programs. Today the number of female astronauts has multiplied and scientists are now able to question how the outer space environment affects female astronaut reproduction. In our research, we looked for ways microgravity could affect a female astronaut's reproductive health. First, we isolated secondary ovarian follicles in vitro and encapsulated them in alginate. The purpose of alginate encapsulation is to ensure that the follicles maintained their structure and follicle-oocyte interaction. Once the follicles were encapsulated, they were placed inside a rotary cell culture system that simulated microgravity. The solid body rotation of the media in the apparatus offset the follicles' attraction to gravity resulting in a weightless free-fall effect like the outer space environment. The control group that grew outside the apparatus showed normal growth of a follicle, however, the follicles inside the apparatus fell out of the bead prior to imaging. Although the system supports follicle growth, and the rotary cell culture system has a lower follicle survival rate than the control group, further studies are required due to experimental issues.