Mice aboard the ISS show why astronauts get kidney stones | The Optimist Daily
Today’s Solutions: July 18, 2024

Humans are terrestrial creatures. We adapted and evolved to the environments of Earth, and, needless to say, things can get complicated for us when we venture beyond our atmosphere. In addition to the myriad other concerns astronauts have, they also have a high chance of developing kidney stones during space travel. 

Thankfully, looking at mice in space has given them clues as to why this is. 

A painful distraction 

NASA reported that more than 30 astronauts have had kidney stones on return to Earth. One astronaut in orbit even almost had to cut their mission short because the pain from their kidney stones was so bad. 

“The pain you get when you’re passing a kidney stone is the worst pain you can experience,” said Dr. Stephen Walsh, clinical senior lecturer in experimental medicine and honorary consultant in nephrology at University College London.

Researchers aboard the International Space Station looked at mice in space to uncover what was behind these cosmonaut kidney stones. 

Why are kidney stones so common in space?

Spending time in reduced gravity is linked to a decrease in bone density. The lost bone calcium gets into the blood, and this could be the cause of astronauts’ kidney stones. This is only one theory as to how this happens though. 

Looking at the mice in the ISS, it appears that cosmic radiation could also play a big role. There is early evidence that shows this and gamma radiation, as well as high-energy particles, cause damage to the DNA in the kidney of the space mice. The mice’s kidneys also had low levels of transportation of sodium, calcium, and phosphate ions, and their kidneys’ cells’ mitochondria — the energy producer of cells — were also damaged. This is critical for producing energy for the kidneys to function. 

While research is ongoing, these preliminary findings show the issues that doctors and astronauts need to address for improving the health of our final frontiersmen and women, thanks to the mice aboard the ISS. 

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

Election anxiety levels through the roof? Strategies to deal with election-in...

Election seasons are known to be tense, but this year stress levels are at another level. We are finding this election season extremely arduous; ...

Read More

Beating the heat: Your comprehensive guide to staying cool and safe in extrem...

BY THE OPTIMIST DAILY EDITORIAL TEAM In light of the extreme coast-to-coast heat hitting the United States and Canada, this week we're bringing back ...

Read More

What’s healthier? Toasted or untoasted bread?

Choosing to toast bread is typically a matter of taste and texture, but did you know that toasting (and dehydrating) your bread might actually ...

Read More

Could this invisible label revolutionize textile recycling?

It's no secret that garments are thrown out at an alarming rate due to fast fashion and the rapid-fire cycling of trends. Furthermore, we ...

Read More