Mice Flown in Space Found to Have Signs of Early Liver Damage, Study Shows

The mice studied spent two weeks aboard the Atlantis space shuttle in 2011.

After the rodents spent two weeks aboard the space shuttle during its final flight in 2011, researchers from the University of Colorado's Anschutz Medical Campus collected liver samples and found that the time in the micro-gravity environment had activated liver cells that could have the potential to cause scarring and other long-term damage. The results were published Wednesday in the journal PLOS ONE.

"Prior to this study we really didn’t have much information on the impact of spaceflight on the liver," Karen Jonscher, lead author of the study and an associate professor at the University of Colorado's Anschutz Medical Campus said in a statement. “We knew that astronauts often returned with diabetes-like symptoms but they usually resolved quickly."

"We need to look at mice involved in longer duration spaceflight to see if there are compensatory mechanisms that come into play that might protect them from serious damage," she said.