Affiliation: 104, Cancer Biology Laboratory, School of Life Sciences, New Mehrauli Road, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi -110067, India.
Study of the process of cancer initiation, growth and progression in altered gravity is of utmost importance considering the health status of researchers visiting in space and future scope of space tourism. Microgravity affects various cells in the body differently; however, the mechanisms of such effects are not understood completely. Therefore, it is imperative to explore various physiological and biochemical processes, particularly those which can influence the process of carcinogenesis. If the changes in physiological or biochemical processes do not revert back to normalcy even after returning from the space to earth, it may lead to various aberrations and morphological changes during the life span. Such changes could lead to pathological conditions including cancer. For example, microgravity is observed to suppress the activity of immune cells, which itself increases the risk of cancer development. It is little known how the microgravity affects cellular and molecular events that determine physiological and biological responses. There is also a possibility of changes in epigenetic signatures during microgravity exposure which remains unexplored. Herein, we have reviewed the effect of microgravity on relevant molecular and biological processes, and how it could influence the course of cancer development. In this regard, we have also highlighted the areas of research that require more attention to bridge the gap of understanding for such biological processes.