Evidence indicates that cerebral blood flow is both increased and diminished in astronauts on return to Earth. Data from ground-based animal models simulating the effects of microgravity have shown that decrements in cerebral perfusion are associated with enhanced vasoconstriction and structural remodeling of cerebral arteries. Based on these results, the purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that 13 d of spaceflight [Space Transportation System (STS)-135 shuttle mission] enhances myogenic vasoconstriction, increases medial wall thickness, and elicits no change in the mechanical properties of mouse cerebral arteries. Basilar and posterior communicating arteries (PCAs) were isolated from 9-wk-old female C57BL/6 mice for in vitro vascular and mechanical testing. Contrary to that hypothesized, myogenic vasoconstrictor responses were lower and vascular distensibility greater in arteries from spaceflight group (SF) mice (n=7) relative to ground-based control group (GC) mice (n=12). Basilar artery maximal diameter was greater in SF mice (SF: 236+/-9 mum and GC: 215+/-5 mum) with no difference in medial wall thickness (SF: 12.4+/-1.6 mum; GC: 12.2+/-1.2 mum). Stiffness of the PCA, as characterized via nanoindentation, was lower in SF mice (SF: 3.4+/-0.3 N/m; GC: 5.4+/-0.8 N/m). Collectively, spaceflight-induced reductions in myogenic vasoconstriction and stiffness and increases in maximal diameter of cerebral arteries signify that elevations in brain blood flow may occur during spaceflight. Such changes in cerebral vascular control of perfusion could contribute to increases in intracranial pressure and an associated impairment of visual acuity in astronauts during spaceflight.
Research Containing: Female
Bone marrow fat accumulation after 60 days of bed rest persisted 1 year after activities were resumed along with hemopoietic stimulation: the Women International Space Simulation for Exploration study
Immobility in bed and decreased mobility cause adaptations to most human body systems. The effect of immobility on fat accumulation in hemopoietic bone marrow has never been measured prospectively. The reversibility of marrow fat accumulation and the effects on hemopoiesis are not known. In the present study, 24 healthy women (age: 25–40 yr) underwent −6° head-down bed rest for 60 days. We used MRI to noninvasively measure the lumbar vertebral fat fraction at various time points. We also measured hemoglobin, erythropoietin, reticulocytes, leukocytes, platelet count, peripheral fat mass, leptin, cortisol, and C-reactive protein during bed rest and for 1 yr after bed rest ended. Compared with baseline, the mean (± SE) fat fraction was increased after 60 days of bed rest (+2.5 ± 1.1%, P < 0.05); the increase persisted 1 yr after the resumption of regular activities (+2.3 ± 0.8%, P < 0.05). Mean hemoglobin levels were significantly decreased 6 days after bed rest ended (−1.36 ± 0.20 g/dl, P < 0.05) but had recovered at 1 yr, with significantly lower mean circulating erythropoietin levels (−3.8 ± 1.2 mU/ml, P < 0.05). Mean numbers of neutrophils and lymphocytes remained significantly elevated at 1 yr (+617 ± 218 neutrophils/μl and +498 ± 112 lymphocytes/μl, both P < 0.05). These results constitute direct evidence that bed rest irreversibly accelerated fat accumulation in hemopoietic bone marrow. The 2.5% increase in fat fraction after 60 days of bed rest was 25-fold larger than expected from historical ambulatory controls. Sixty days of bed rest accelerated by 4 yr the normal bone marrow involution. Bed rest and marrow adiposity were associated with hemopoietic stimulation. One year after subjects returned to normal activities, hemoglobin levels were maintained, with 43% lower circulating erythropoietin levels, and leukocytes remained significantly elevated across lineages. Lack of mobility alters hemopoiesis, possibly through marrow fat accumulation, with potentially wide-ranging clinical consequences.
OBJECT: It has been over a decade since the introduction of the da Vinci Surgical System into surgery. Since then, technology has been advancing at an exponential rate, and newer surgical robots are becoming increasingly sophisticated, which could greatly impact the performance of surgery. NeuroArm is one such robotic system. METHODS: Clinical integration of neuroArm, an MR-compatible image-guided robot, into surgical procedure has been developed over a prospective series of 35 cases with varying pathology. RESULTS: Only 1 adverse event was encountered in the first 35 neuroArm cases, with no patient injury. The adverse event was uncontrolled motion of the left neuroArm manipulator, which was corrected through a rigorous safety review procedure. Surgeons used a graded approach to introducing neuroArm into surgery, with routine dissection of the tumor-brain interface occurring over the last 15 cases. The use of neuroArm for routine dissection shows that robotic technology can be successfully integrated into microsurgery. Karnofsky performance status scores were significantly improved postoperatively and at 12-week follow-up. CONCLUSIONS: Surgical robots have the potential to improve surgical precision and accuracy through motion scaling and tremor filters, although human surgeons currently possess superior speed and dexterity. Additionally, neuroArm's workstation has positive implications for technology management and surgical education. NeuroArm is a step toward a future in which a variety of machines are merged with medicine.
To test whether gravity is required for normal amphibian development, Xenopus laevis females were induced to ovulate aboard the orbiting Space Shuttle. Eggs were fertilized in vitro, and although early embryonic stages showed some abnormalities, the embryos were able to regulate and produce nearly normal larvae. These results demonstrate that a vertebrate can ovulate in the virtual absence of gravity and that the eggs can develop to a free-living stage.
Gravity has been a pervasive influence on all living systems and there is convincing evidence to suggest that it alters fertilization and embryogenesis in several developmental systems. Notwithstanding the global importance of gravity on development, it has only been recently possible to begin to design experiments which might directly investigate the specific effects of this vector. The goal of this research program is to explore and understand the effects of gravity on fertilization and early development using sea urchins as a model system. Sea urchin development has several advantages for this project including the feasibility of maintaining and manipulating these cells during spaceflight, the high percentage of normal fertilization and early development, and the abundant knowledge about molecular, biochemical, and cellular events during embryogenesis which permits detailed insights into the mechanism by which gravity might interfere with development. Furthermore, skeletal calcium is deposited into the embryonic spicules within a day of fertilization permitting studies of the effects of gravity on bone calcium deposition.
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) latent and replicative gene transcription was analyzed in peripheral blood B-lymphocytes from astronauts who flew on short-duration ( approximately 11 days) Shuttle missions and long-duration ( approximately 180 days) International Space Station (ISS) missions. Latent, immediate-early, and early gene replicative viral transcripts were detected in samples from six astronauts who flew on short-duration Shuttle missions, whereas viral gene transcription was mostly absent in samples from 24 healthy donors. Samples from six astronauts who flew on long-duration ISS missions were characterized by expanded expression of latent, immediate-early, and early gene transcripts and new onset expression of late replicative transcription upon return to Earth. These data indicate that EBV-infected cells are no longer expressing the restricted set of viral genes that characterize latency but are expressing latent and lytic gene transcripts. These data also suggest the possibility of EBV-related complications in future long-duration missions, in particular interplanetary travel.
INTRODUCTION: Short-term spaceflight is associated with significant but reversible immunological alterations. However, little information exists on the effects of long-duration spaceflight on neuroimmune responses. METHODS: We collected multiple pre- and postflight samples from Shuttle and International Space Station (ISS) crewmembers in order to compare adrenocortical and immune responses between short- (approximately 11 d) and long-duration (approximately 180 d) spaceflight. RESULTS: In Shuttle crewmembers, increased stress hormone levels and altered leukocyte subsets were observed prior to launch and at landing. Additionally, typical stress-induced shifts in leukocyte and lymphocyte subsets, as well as the percentage of T-cells capable of producing intracellular IFN-gamma were also decreased just before launch and immediately after landing. Plasma IL-10 levels were increased before launch but not postflight. No preflight changes occurred in ISS crewmembers, but long-duration crewmembers exhibited significantly greater spikes in both plasma and urinary cortisol at landing as compared to Shuttle crewmembers. The percentage of T-cells capable of producing intracellular IFN-gamma was decreased in ISS crewmembers. Plasma IL-10 was increased postflight. Unexpectedly, stress-induced shifts in lymphocyte subpopulations were absent after long-duration flights despite significantly increased stress hormones at landing. CONCLUSION: Our results demonstrate significant differences in neuroimmune responses between astronauts flying on short-duration Shuttle missions versus long-duration ISS missions, and they agree with prior studies demonstrating the importance of mission duration in the magnitude of these changes.
Recovery of spaceflight-induced bone loss: Bone mineral density after long-duration missions as fitted with an exponential function
The loss of bone mineral in NASA astronauts during spaceflight has been investigated throughout the more than 40 years of space travel. Consequently, it is a medical requirement at NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) that changes in bone mass be monitored in crew members by measuring bone mineral density (BMD), with dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) before and after flight, of astronauts who serve on long-duration missions (4?6 months). We evaluated this repository of medical data to track whether there is recovery of bone mineral that was lost during spaceflight.Our analysis was supplemented by BMD data from cosmonauts (by convention, a space traveler formally employed by the Russia Aviation and Space Agency or by the previous Soviet Union) who had also flown on long-duration missions. Data from a total of 45 individual crew members a small number of whom flew on more than one mission were used in this analysis. Changes in BMD (between 56 different sets of pre- and postflight measurements) were plotted as a function of time (days after landing). Plotted BMD changes were fitted to an exponential mathematical function that estimated: (i) BMD change on landing day (day 0) and (ii) the number of days after landing when 50% of the lost bone would be recovered (50% recovery time) in the lumbar spine, trochanter, pelvis, femoral neck and calcaneus. In sum, averaged losses of bone mineral after long-duration spaceflight ranged between 2% and 9% across all sites with our recovery model predicting a 50% restoration of bone loss for all sites to be within 9 months.
BACKGROUND & METHOD: A survey was distributed to 77 Space Shuttle flight crew members; 40 responded covering 71 missions. The goal was to capture historical information before Shuttle retirement and to better understand subjective experiences of illusory sensations due to the transition from 1-G to microgravity and back. RESULTS: We analyzed the response data to answer four questions: 1) Do older astronauts suffer more from illusory sensations than younger astronauts? We conclude that they do not because younger flight crew had about twice the rate of illusory sensations as older flight crew. 2) Do trial head motions during re-entry in an effort to hasten readaptation to 1-G really help? Apparently not because those who made trial head motions had a 38% rate of illusory sensations whereas those who did not make trial head motions had a 15% rate of illusory sensations. 3) Do symptoms decrease as flight experience increases? Yes, as reported in other publications, although there are individual exceptions. 4) Do longer duration missions lead to more illusory sensations and readaptation difficulties than shorter duration missions? Yes, the rate of illusory sensations for longer missions was 38%, whereas it was 24% for shorter missions. DISCUSSION: Based upon our results, long-duration missions may induce orientation problems that could have significant mission impacts.
The effects of space travel are relatively unexplored in regard to the female reproductive system. An important step in determining possible adverse effects on the human female reproductive system is the analysis of test animal data. This study analyzed the ovarian tissue of mice flown aboard space shuttle Endeavour on NASA mission STS-118. The experiment consisted of three groups of animals: two sets of control animals and a single set of flight animals. Each set consisted of twelve individual mice. The flight animals were housed in the Animal Enclosure Module (AEM) of the Commercial Biomedical Testing Module-2 (CBTM-2) over the 13 day flight. One set of control animals (baseline) were housed in standard cages at room temperature. The other set of control animals (ground control) were housed in ground based AEMs which were environmentally controlled to match the conditions aboard the shuttle Endeavour with a delay of 48 hours and subject to normal gravity. The ovarian tissue samples were fixed in 4% paraformaldehyde, paraffin embedded, sectioned, mounted, and stained using standard Hematoxylin and Eosin staining procedures, and cover-slipped. The gross morphology of the tissue was then qualitatively analyzed. The flight animals were compared to the baseline and ground control sets. The presence of developing follicles of all stages as well as the presence of corpora lutea in all three treatment groups indicates no significant gross morphological changes occur within ovarian tissue when exposed to spaceflight for 13 days or less.