Operational point of neural cardiovascular regulation in humans up to 6 months in space
Verheyden, B., et al. (2010). "Operational point of neural cardiovascular regulation in humans up to 6 months in space." 108 3: 646-654
Entering weightlessness affects central circulation in humans by enhancing venous return and cardiac output. We tested whether the operational point of neural cardiovascular regulation in space sets accordingly to adopt a level close to that found in the ground-based horizontal position. Heart rate (HR), finger blood and brachial blood pressure (BP), and respiratory frequency were collected in 11 astronauts from nine space missions. Recordings were made in supine and standing positions at least 10 days before launch and during spaceflight (days 5–19, 45–67, 77–116, 146–180). Cross-correlation analyses of HR and systolic BP were used to measure three complementary aspects of cardiac baroreflex modulation: 1) baroreflex sensitivity, 2) number of effective baroreflex estimates, and 3) baroreflex time delay. A fixed breathing protocol was performed to measure respiratory sinus arrhythmia and low-frequency power of systolic BP variability. We found that HR and mean arterial pressure did not differ from preflight supine values for up to 6 mo in space. Respiration frequency tended to decrease during prolonged spaceflight. Concerning neural markers of cardiovascular regulation, we observed in-flight adaptations toward homeostatic conditions similar to those found in the ground-based supine position. Surprisingly, this was not the case for baroreflex time delay distribution, which had somewhat longer latencies in space. Except for this finding, our results confirm that the operational point of neural cardiovascular regulation in space sets to a level close to that of an Earth-based supine position. This adaptation level suggests that circulation is chronically relaxed for at least 6 mo in space.