The increased heterogeneity of International Space Station (ISS) crews′ composition (in terms of nationality, profession and gender) together with stressful situations, due to space flight, can have a significant impact on group interaction and cohesion, as well as on communications with Mission Control Center (MCC) and the success of the mission as a whole. Culturally related differences in values, goals, and behavioral norms could influence mutual perception and, thus, cohesive group formation. The purpose of onboard “Interaction-Attitudes” experiment is to study the patterns of small group (space crew) behavior in extended space flight. Onboard studies were performed in the course of ISS Missions 19–30 with participation of twelve Russian crewmembers. Experimental schedule included 3 phases: preflight training and Baseline Data Collection; inflight activities once in two weeks; post-flight measurement. We used Personal Self-Perception and Attitudes (PSPA) software for analyzing subjects′ attitudes toward social environment (crewmembers and MCC). It is based on the semantic differential and the repertory grid technique. To study the content of interpersonal perception we used content-analysis with participation of the experts, independently attributing each construct to the 17 semantic categories, which were described in our previous study. The data obtained demonstrated that the system of values and personal attitudes in the majority of participated cosmonauts remained mostly stable under stress-factors of extended space flight. Content-analysis of the important criteria elaborated by the subjects for evaluation of their social environment, showed that the most valuable personal traits for cosmonauts were those that provided the successful fulfillment of professional activity (motivation, intellectual level, knowledge, and self-discipline) and good social relationships (sociability, friendship, and tolerance), as well. Post-flight study of changes in perceptions, related to Real Self-image, did not reveal significant differences between the images of Russian crew-members and representatives from foreign space agencies. A certain difference in perceptions was found in cosmonauts with more integrated system of evaluations: after space flight they perceived foreign participants as “closer” to their Ideal, while Russian crew-members were perceived mostly as “distant” from Ideal Self of these subjects. Perceptions of people from Earth were also more critical. These differences are likely to be manifestations of interpersonal perception stereotypes. Described patterns of changes in perceptions of cosmonauts, who have performed space flight as a part of ISS multinational crew, allow us to suggest the recommendations for development of ISS crew training, in particular, it seems useful to increase the time of joint training for deepening of intercultural interaction.
Research Containing: Human Research
PURPOSE: Exposure to microgravity affects human physiology and results in changes in urinary chemical composition during and after spaceflight, favoring an increased risk of renal stones. We assessed the efficacy of potassium citrate to decrease the stone risk during and after spaceflight. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The study was done in 30 long duration spaceflight crew members to the space stations Mir and International Space Station. Before, during and after spaceflight 24-hour urine samples were collected to assess the renal stone risk. Potassium citrate (20 mEq) was ingested daily by International Space Station crew members in a double-blind, placebo controlled study. Mir crew members performed the identical protocol but did not ingest medication. RESULTS: Potassium citrate treated crew members had decreased urinary calcium excretion and maintained the calcium oxalate supersaturation risk at preflight levels compared to that in controls. Increased urinary pH in the treatment group decreased the risk of uric acid stones. CONCLUSIONS: Results from this investigation suggest that supplementation with potassium citrate may decrease the risk of renal stone formation during and immediately after spaceflight.
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.
In order to bring new insights into the processing of 3D spatial information, we conducted experiments on the capacity of human subjects to memorize 3D-structured environments, such as buildings with several floors or the potentially complex 3D structure of an orbital space station. We had subjects move passively in one of two different exploration modes, through a visual virtual environment that consisted of a series of connected tunnels. In upright displacement, self-rotation when going around corners in the tunnels was limited to yaw rotations. For horizontal translations, subjects faced forward in the direction of motion. When moving up or down through vertical segments of the 3D tunnels, however, subjects facing the tunnel wall, remaining upright as if moving up and down in a glass elevator. In the unconstrained displacement mode, subjects would appear to climb or dive face-forward when moving vertically; thus, in this mode subjects could experience visual flow consistent with rotations about any of the 3 canonical axes. In a previous experiment, subjects were asked to determine whether a static, outside view of a test tunnel corresponded or not to the tunnel through which they had just passed. Results showed that performance was better on this task for the upright than for the unconstrained displacement mode; i.e. when subjects remained "upright" with respect to the virtual environment as defined by subject's posture in the first segment. This effect suggests that gravity may provide a key reference frame used in the shift between egocentric and allocentric representations of the 3D virtual world. To check whether it is the polarizing effects of gravity that leads to the favoring of the upright displacement mode, the experimental paradigm was adapted for orbital flight and performed by cosmonauts onboard the International Space Station. For these flight experiments the previous recognition task was replaced by a computerized reconstruction task, which proved to be more efficient in terms of the time required to achieve reliable results. Suppressing gravity did not immediately affect relative performance between the two modes, indicating that on-line graviceptor information is not directly responsible for this differential effect. Trends in the evolution of responses over the course of a 10-day mission, however, suggest that human subjects might adapt their ability to represent internally complex 3D displacements.
Some of the aspects of comparative analysis of the hemodynamic reactions to LBNP in cosmonauts of different age groups
This was the first study of age-related differences of the cardiovascular system functioning and reactions to the LBNP test in career cosmonauts. Results of 174 LBNP tests performed within the standard medical monitoring program using Gamma-01 (orbital station Mir) and Gamma-lM (ISS) were subjected to comparative analysis. Thirty eight cosmonauts–members of 25 long-duration Mir and ISS missions were divided into two age groups, i.e. 30-39 y.o. (mean 36 & 0.7, 39% of all subjects) and 40-55 y.o. (mean 46 & 0.8, 61% of all subjects). The testing was performed before launch and in flight (typically on FD-120). Age-specifc changes in the hemodynamic status were recorded in resting cosmonauts pre-flight and in spaceflight microgravity; relative dynamics of the CV parameters in response to standing posture imitation was on one and the same patterns and yet demonstrated unequal intensity before and in flight. Test results implicate that analysis and interpretation of cosmonauts' medical monitoring data should take into account individual age, which is of particular practical importance when dealing with the LBNP test data obtained in different periods of space flight.
Dependence of the circulation system functioning on cosmonaut age according to the results of physical loading tests on a veloergometer
Age-related hemodynamic reactions to the standard incremental physical loading tests on a cycle ergometer were assessed in cosmonauts before and during extended space missions. Analysis of the data from 353 tests performed with 63 cosmonauts differentiated into three age groups (30–39, 40–49, and 50–55 years old) showed changes in adaptive-compensatory hemodynamic responses to microgravity and physical loading depending on age. The consistent gradual degradation of the heart chronotropic function with age can be interpreted as a symptom of declining cardiovascular reactivity. In orbit, the cardiac output volume depended mainly on heart rate and blood pressure (i.e., vascular tone).
The aim of this investigation was to document the exercise program used by crewmembers (n = 9; 45 ± 2 yr) while aboard the International Space Station (ISS) for 6 mo and examine its effectiveness for preserving calf muscle characteristics. Before and after spaceflight, we assessed calf muscle volume (MRI), static and dynamic calf muscle performance, and muscle fiber types (gastrocnemius and soleus). While on the ISS, crewmembers had access to a running treadmill, cycle ergometer, and resistance exercise device. The exercise regimen varied among the crewmembers with aerobic exercise performed ∼5 h/wk at a moderate intensity and resistance exercise performed 3–6 days/wk incorporating multiple lower leg exercises. Calf muscle volume decreased (P < 0.05) 13 ± 2% with greater (P < 0.05) atrophy of the soleus (−15 ± 2%) compared with the gastrocnemius (−10 ± 2%). Peak power was 32% lower (P < 0.05) after spaceflight. Force-velocity characteristics were reduced (P < 0.05) −20 to −29% across the velocity spectrum. There was a 12–17% shift in myosin heavy chain (MHC) phenotype of the gastrocnemius and soleus with a decrease (P < 0.05) in MHC I fibers and a redistribution among the faster phenotypes. These data show a reduction in calf muscle mass and performance along with a slow-to-fast fiber type transition in the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles, which are all qualities associated with unloading in humans. Future long-duration space missions should modify the current ISS exercise prescription and/or hardware to better preserve human skeletal muscle mass and function, thereby reducing the risk imposed to crewmembers.
Astronauts often show skin reactions in space. Systematic tests, e.g. with noninvasive skin physiological test methods, have not yet been done. In an interdisciplinary cooperation, a test series with skin physiological measurements was carried out before, during and after a long-term mission in the International Space Station. The hydration of the stratum corneum (Corneometer), transepidermal water loss (Tewameter), and the surface structure of the skin (SkinVisiometer) were measured. In order to record cutaneous states, the suction elasticity was measured (Cutometer), and an ultrasound measurement with 20 MHz (DermaScan) was also made. In addition, one measuring field of the two inner forearms was treated with a skin care emulsion. There were indications of a delayed epidermal proliferation of the cells, which would correspond to the clinical symptoms. Hydration and TEWL values are improved by respective skin care. On the cutaneous level, the elasticity measurements and the ultrasound picture showed results which correspond to a significant loss of elasticity of the skin. Further examinations are necessary to validate these preliminary results.
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.
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.