Blood Vessel Cells Up Close Remind Us We Are Made of Star Stuff 

By Attila Nagy on at

This image of blood vessel cells stained for identification is a stunning reminder: We are made of star stuff.

The image above shows components of human endothelial cells, which will be sent to the Space Station this year to study how blood vessels react in zero gravity. The protein that allows cells to move, adhere, divide and react to stimuli is red, and the cell nuclei containing DNA is blue.

The structure immediately reminded me of the largest simulation of the growth of cosmic structure, created by the Max-Planck-Institute for Astrophysics:

Blood Vessel Cells Up Close Remind Us We Are Made of Star Stuff 

The European Space Agency explains more about the experiment:

The Endothelial Cells experiment will fly to the International Space Station this year to understand how the cells that line our blood vessels react to weightlessness. Endothelial cells contain our blood and contract or expand our blood vessels as needed, regulating the flow of blood to our organs.

Blood flow changes in space because gravity no longer pulls blood towards astronauts' feet. By understanding the underlying adaptive mechanisms of how our bodies respond to weightlessness, this experiment aims to develop methods to help astronauts in space while showing possibilities for people on Earth – our endothelial cells become less effective with age – to live longer and healthier lives.

Here is the full image:

Blood Vessel Cells Up Close Remind Us We Are Made of Star Stuff 

[Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Pisa, Italy/ESA]