Analysis of the results of long term investigations of bones in cosmonauts on board Mir orbital sta tion(OS) and International Space Station (ISS) (n = 80) was performed. Theoretically predicted (evolution ary predefined) change in mass of different skeleton bones was found to be correlated (r = 0.904) with the position relative to Earth’s gravity vector. Vector dependence of bone loss results from local specificity of expression of bone metabolism genes, which reflects mechanical prehistory of skeleton structures in the evo lution of Homo erectus. Genetic polymorphism is accountable for high individual variability of bone loss, which is attested by the dependence of bone loss rate on polymorphism of certain genetic markers of bone metabolism. The type of the orbital vehicle did not affect the individual specific stability of the bone loss ratio in different segments of the skeleton. This fact is considered as a phenotype fingerprint of local metabolism in the form of a locus specific spatial structure of distribution of non collagen proteins responsible for posi tion regulation of endosteal metabolism. Drug treatment of osteoporosis (n = 107) evidences that recovery rate depends on bone location; the most likely reason is different effectiveness of local osteotropic interven tion into areas of bustling resorption.
Survival of Antarctic Cryptoendolithic Fungi in Simulated Martian Conditions On Board the International Space Station
Dehydrated Antarctic cryptoendolithic communities and colonies of the rock inhabitant black fungi Cryomyces antarcticus (CCFEE 515) and Cryomyces minteri (CCFEE 5187) were exposed as part of the Lichens and Fungi Experiment (LIFE) for 18 months in the European Space Agency’s EXPOSE-E facility to simulated martian conditions aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Upon sample retrieval, survival was proved by testing colony-forming ability, and viability of cells (as integrity of cell membrane) was determined by the propidium monoazide (PMA) assay coupled with quantitative PCR tests. Although less than 10% of the samples exposed to simulated martian conditions were able to proliferate and form colonies, the PMA assay indicated that more than 60% of the cells and rock communities had remained intact after the "Mars exposure." Furthermore, a high stability of the DNA in the cells was demonstrated. The results contribute to assessing the stability of resistant microorganisms and biosignatures on the surface of Mars, data that are valuable information for further search-for-life experiments on Mars.
Intrinsic cardiovascular autonomic regulatory system of astronauts exposed long-term to microgravity in space: observational study
The fractal scaling of the long-term heart rate variability (HRV) reflects the ‘intrinsic’ autonomic regulatory system. Herein, we examine how microgravity on the ISS affected the power-law scaling β (beta) of astronauts during a long-duration (about 6 months) spaceflight. Ambulatory electrocardiographic (ECG) monitoring was performed on seven healthy astronauts (5 men, 52.0 ± 4.2 years of age) five times: before launch, 24 ± 5 (F01) and 73 ± 5 (F02) days after launch, 15 ± 5 days before return (F03), and after return to Earth. The power-law scaling β was calculated as the slope of the regression line of the power density of the MEM spectrum versus frequency plotted on a log10–log10 scale in the range of 0.0001–0.01 Hz (corresponding to periods of 2.8 h to 1.6 min). β was less negative in space (−0.949 ± 0.061) than on Earth (−1.163 ± 0.075; P o 0.025). The difference was more pronounced during the awake than during the rest/sleep span. The circadian amplitude and acrophase (phase of maximum) of β did not differ in space as compared with Earth. An effect of microgravity was detected within 1 month (F01) in space and continued throughout the spaceflight. The intrinsic autonomic regulatory system that protects life under serious environmental conditions on Earth is altered in the microgravity environment, with no change over the 6-month spaceflight. It is thus important to find a way to improve conditions in space and/or in terms of human physiology, not to compromise the intrinsic autonomic regulatory system now that;plans are being made to inhabit another planet in the near future.
Huntington’s disease is caused by expansion of a polyglutamine (polyQ) repeat in the huntingtin protein. A structural basis for the apparent transition between normal and disease-causing expanded polyQ repeats of huntingtin is unknown. The "linear lattice" model proposed random-coil structures for both normal and expanded polyQ in the preaggregation state. Consistent with this model, the affinity and stoichiometry of the anti-polyQ antibody MW1 increased with the number of glutamines. An opposing "structural toxic threshold" model proposed a conformational change above the pathogenic polyQ threshold resulting in a specific toxic conformation for expanded polyQ. Support for this model was provided by the anti-polyQ antibody 3B5H10, which was reported to specifically recognize a distinct pathologic conformation of soluble expanded polyQ. To distinguish between these models, we directly compared binding of MW1 and 3B5H10 to normal and expanded polyQ repeats within huntingtin exon 1 fusion proteins. We found similar binding characteristics for both antibodies. First, both antibodies bound to normal, as well as expanded, polyQ in huntingtin exon 1 fusion proteins. Second, an expanded polyQ tract contained multiple epitopes for fragments antigen-binding (Fabs) of both antibodies, demonstrating that 3B5H10 does not recognize a single epitope specific to expanded polyQ. Finally, small-angle X-ray scattering and dynamic light scattering revealed similar binding modes for MW1 and 3B5H10 Fab-huntingtin exon 1 complexes. Together, these results support the linear lattice model for polyQ binding proteins, suggesting that the hypothesized pathologic conformation of soluble expanded polyQ is not a valid target for drug design.
Abstract: Hackney, KJ, Scott, JM, Hanson, AM, English, KL, Downs, ME, and Ploutz-Snyder, LL. The astronaut-athlete: optimizing human performance in space. J Strength Cond Res 29(12): 3531–3545, 2015—It is well known that long-duration spaceflight results in deconditioning of neuromuscular and cardiovascular systems, leading to a decline in physical fitness. On reloading in gravitational environments, reduced fitness (e.g., aerobic capacity, muscular strength, and endurance) could impair human performance, mission success, and crew safety. The level of fitness necessary for the performance of routine and off-nominal terrestrial mission tasks remains an unanswered and pressing question for scientists and flight physicians. To mitigate fitness loss during spaceflight, resistance and aerobic exercise are the most effective countermeasure available to astronauts. Currently, 2.5 h·d−1, 6–7 d·wk−1 is allotted in crew schedules for exercise to be performed on highly specialized hardware on the International Space Station (ISS). Exercise hardware provides up to 273 kg of loading capability for resistance exercise, treadmill speeds between 0.44 and 5.5 m·s−1, and cycle workloads from 0 and 350 W. Compared to ISS missions, future missions beyond low earth orbit will likely be accomplished with less vehicle volume and power allocated for exercise hardware. Concomitant factors, such as diet and age, will also affect the physiologic responses to exercise training (e.g., anabolic resistance) in the space environment. Research into the potential optimization of exercise countermeasures through use of dietary supplementation, and pharmaceuticals may assist in reducing physiological deconditioning during long-duration spaceflight and have the potential to enhance performance of occupationally related astronaut tasks (e.g., extravehicular activity, habitat construction, equipment repairs, planetary exploration, and emergency response).
Pulse transit time measured by photoplethysmography improves the accuracy of heart rate as a surrogate measure of cardiac output, stroke volume and oxygen uptake in response to graded exercise
Heart rate (HR) is a valuable and widespread measure for physical training programs, although its description of conditioning is limited to the cardiac response to exercise. More comprehensive measures of exercise adaptation include cardiac output (Q), stroke volume (SV) and oxygen uptake (VO2), but these physiological parameters can be measured only with cumbersome equipment installed in clinical settings. In this work, we explore the ability of pulse transit time (PTT) to represent a valuable pairing with HR for indirectly estimating Q, SV and VO2 non-invasively. PTT was measured as the time interval between the peak of the electrocardiographic (ECG) R-wave and the onset of the photoplethysmography (PPG) waveform at the periphery (i.e. fingertip) with a portable sensor. Fifteen healthy young subjects underwent a graded incremental cycling protocol after which HR and PTT were correlated with Q, SV and VO2 using linear mixed models. The addition of PTT significantly improved the modeling of Q, SV and VO2 at the individual level ([Formula: see text] for SV, 0.548 for Q, and 0.771 for VO2) compared to predictive models based solely on HR ([Formula: see text] for SV, 0.503 for Q, and 0.745 for VO2). While challenges in sensitivity and artifact rejection exist, combining PTT with HR holds potential for development of novel wearable sensors that provide exercise assessment largely superior to HR monitors.
Bone loss associated with microgravity exposure poses a significant barrier to long-duration spaceflight. Osteoprotegerin-Fc (OPG-Fc) is a receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa-B ligand (RANKL) inhibitor that causes sustained inhibition of bone resorption after a single subcutaneous injection. We tested the ability of OPG-Fc to preserve bone mass during 12 days of spaceflight (SF). 64-day-old female C57BL/6J mice (n=12/group) were injected subcutaneously with OPG-Fc (20mg/kg) or an inert vehicle (VEH), 24h prior to launch. Ground control (GC) mice (VEH or OPG-Fc) were maintained under environmental conditions that mimicked those in the space shuttle middeck. Age-matched baseline (BL) controls were sacrificed at launch. GC/VEH, but not SF/VEH mice, gained tibia BMD and trabecular volume fraction (BV/TV) during the mission (P<0.05 vs. BL). SF/VEH mice had lower BV/TV vs. GC/VEH mice, while SF/OPG-Fc mice had greater BV/TV than SF/VEH or GC/VEH. SF reduced femur elastic and maximum strength in VEH mice, with OPG-Fc increasing elastic strength in SF mice. Serum TRAP5b was elevated in SF/VEH mice vs. GC/VEH mice. Conversely, SF/OPG-Fc mice had lower TRAP5b levels, suggesting that OPG-Fc preserved bone during spaceflight via inhibition of osteoclast-mediated bone resorption. Decreased bone formation also contributed to the observed osteopenia, based on the reduced femur periosteal bone formation rate and serum osteocalcin level. Overall, these observations suggest that the beneficial effects of OPG-Fc during SF are primarily due to dramatic and sustained suppression of bone resorption. In growing mice, this effect appears to compensate for the SF-related inhibition of bone formation, while preventing any SF-related increase in bone resorption. We have demonstrated that the young mouse is an appropriate new model for SF-induced osteopenia, and that a single pre-flight treatment with OPG-Fc can effectively prevent the deleterious effects of SF on mouse bone.
INTRODUCTION: Physical training has been conducted on the International Space Station (ISS) for the past 10 yr as a countermeasure to physiological deconditioning during spaceflight. Each member space agency has developed its own approach to creating and implementing physical training protocols for their astronauts. We have divided physical training into three distinct phases (preflight, in-flight, and postflight) and provided a description of each phase with its constraints and limitations. We also discuss how each member agency (NASA, ESA, CSA, and JAXA) prescribed physical training for their crewmembers during the first 10 yr of ISS operations. It is important to understand the operational environment, the agency responsible for the physical training program, and the constraints and limitations associated with spaceflight to accurately design and implement exercise training or interpret the exercise data collected on ISS. As exploration missions move forward, resolving agency differences in physical training programs will become important to maximizing the effectiveness of exercise as a countermeasure and minimizing any mission impacts.
Understanding the effects of spaceflight on head–trunk coordination during walking and obstacle avoidance
Prolonged exposure to spaceflight conditions results in a battery of physiological changes, some of which contribute to sensorimotor and neurovestibular deficits. Upon return to Earth, functional performance changes are tested using the Functional Task Test (FTT), which includes an obstacle course to observe post-flight balance and postural stability, specifically during turning. The goal of this study was to quantify changes in movement strategies during turning events by observing the latency between head-and-trunk coordinated movements. It was hypothesized that subjects experiencing neurovestibular adaptations would exhibit head-to-trunk locking (‘en bloc’ movement) during turning, exhibited by a decrease in latency between head and trunk movement. FTT data samples were collected from 13 ISS astronauts and 26 male 70-day head down tilt bed rest subjects, including bed rest controls (10 BRC) and bed rest exercisers (16 BRE). Samples were analyzed three times pre-exposure, immediately post-exposure (0 or 1-day post) and 2–3 times during recovery from the unloading environment. Two 3D inertial measurements units (XSens MTx) were attached to subjects, one on the head and one on the upper back. This study focused primarily on the yaw movements about the subject’s center of rotation. Time differences (latency) between head and trunk movement were averaged across a slalom obstacle portion, consisting of three turns (approximately three 601 turns). All participants were grouped as ‘decreaser’ or ‘increaser’, relating to their change in head-to-trunk movement latency between pre- and post-environmental adaptation measures. Spaceflight unloading (ISS) showed a bimodal response between the ‘increaser’ and ‘decreaser’ group, while both bed rest control (BRC) and bed rest exercise (BRE) populations showed increased preference towards a ‘decreaser’ categorization, displaying greater head–trunk locking. It is clear that changes in movement strategies are adopted during exposure to an unloading environment. These results further the under- standing of vestibular–somatosensory convergence and support the use of bed rest as an exclusionary model to better understand sensorimotor changes in spaceflight.
BACKGROUND: A number of ophthalmic findings including optic disc edema, globe flattening, and choroidal folds have been observed in several astronauts after long-duration space flights. The authors report the first astronaut with previously documented postflight ophthalmic abnormalities who developed new pathological changes after a repeat long-duration mission. METHODS: A case study of an astronaut with 2 long-duration (6 months) exposures to microgravity. Before and after his first long-duration space flight, he underwent complete eye examination, including fundus photography. Before and after his second flight, 9 years later, he underwent fundus photography, optical coherence tomography, ocular ultrasonography, and brain magnetic resonance imaging, as well as in-flight fundus photography and ultrasound. RESULTS: After his first long-duration mission, the astronaut was documented to have eye findings limited to unilateral choroidal folds and a single cotton wool spot. During a subsequent 6-month mission, he developed more widespread choroidal folds and new onset of optic disc edema in the same eye. CONCLUSION: Microgravity-induced anatomical changes that occurred during the first mission may have set the stage for recurrent or additional changes when the astronaut was subjected to physiological stress of repeat space flight.