Spaceflight-Associated Changes of snoRNAs in Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells and Plasma Exosomes—A Pilot Study

Amit Kumar Rai, K. Shanmugha Rajan, Malik Bisserier, Agnieszka Brojakowska, Aimy Sebastian, Angela C. Evans, Matthew A. Coleman, Paul J. Mills, Arsen Arakelyan, Shizuka Uchida, Lahouaria Hadri, David A. Goukassian, Venkata Naga Srikanth Garikipati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


During spaceflight, astronauts are exposed to various physiological and psychological stressors that have been associated with adverse health effects. Therefore, there is an unmet need to develop novel diagnostic tools to predict early alterations in astronauts’ health. Small nucleolar RNA (snoRNA) is a type of short non-coding RNA (60–300 nucleotides) known to guide 2′-O-methylation (Nm) or pseudouridine (ψ) of ribosomal RNA (rRNA), small nuclear RNA (snRNA), or messenger RNA (mRNA). Emerging evidence suggests that dysregulated snoRNAs may be key players in regulating fundamental cellular mechanisms and in the pathogenesis of cancer, heart, and neurological disease. Therefore, we sought to determine whether the spaceflight-induced snoRNA changes in astronaut’s peripheral blood (PB) plasma extracellular vesicles (PB-EV) and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). Using unbiased small RNA sequencing (sRNAseq), we evaluated changes in PB-EV snoRNA content isolated from astronauts (n = 5/group) who underwent median 12-day long Shuttle missions between 1998 and 2001. Using stringent cutoff (fold change > 2 or log2-fold change >1, FDR < 0.05), we detected 21 down-and 9—up-regulated snoRNAs in PB-EVs 3 days after return (R + 3) compared to 10 days before launch (L-10). qPCR validation revealed that SNORA74A was significantly down-regulated at R + 3 compared to L-10. We next determined snoRNA expression levels in astronauts’ PBMCs at R + 3 and L-10 (n = 6/group). qPCR analysis further confirmed a significant increase in SNORA19 and SNORA47 in astronauts’ PBMCs at R + 3 compared to L-10. Notably, many downregulated snoRNA-guided rRNA modifications, including four Nms and five ψs. Our findings revealed that spaceflight induced changes in PB-EV and PBMCs snoRNA expression, thus suggesting snoRNAs may serve as potential novel biomarkers for monitoring astronauts’ health.

Original languageEnglish
Article number886689
JournalFrontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine
StatePublished - 24 Jun 2022


  • astronaut
  • biomarker
  • extracellular vesicles
  • peripheral blood—mononuclear cells
  • snoRNA


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