Indexed on: 07 Nov '14Published on: 07 Nov '14Published in: PloS one
High charge and energy (HZE) particles are a main hazard of the space radiation environment. Uncertainty regarding their health effects is a limiting factor in the design of human exploration-class space missions, that is, missions beyond low earth orbit. Previous work has shown that HZE exposure increases cancer risk and elicits other aging-like phenomena in animal models. Here, we investigate how a single exposure to HZE particle radiation, early in life, influences the subsequent age-dependent evolution of oxidative stress and appearance of degenerative tissue changes. Embryos of the laboratory model organism, Oryzias latipes (Japanese medaka fish), were exposed to HZE particle radiation at doses overlapping the range of anticipated human exposure. A separate cohort was exposed to reference γ-radiation. Survival was monitored for 750 days, well beyond the median lifespan. The population was also sampled at intervals and liver tissue was subjected to histological and molecular analysis. HZE particle radiation dose and aging contributed synergistically to accumulation of lipid peroxidation products, which are a marker of chronic oxidative stress. This was mirrored by a decline in PPARGC1A mRNA, which encodes a transcriptional co-activator required for expression of oxidative stress defense genes and for mitochondrial maintenance. Consistent with chronic oxidative stress, mitochondria had an elongated and enlarged ultrastructure. Livers also had distinctive, cystic lesions. Depending on the endpoint, effects of γ-rays in the same dose range were either lesser or not detected. Results provide a quantitative and qualitative framework for understanding relative contributions of HZE particle radiation exposure and aging to chronic oxidative stress and tissue degeneration.