To what extent does going to space affect cardiovascular function? Although many studies have addressed this question, the answer remains controversial. Even for such primary parameters as heart rate (HR) and blood pressure (BP) contradictory results have been presented. The purpose of this investigation was to evaluate HR and arterial BP in 11 male astronauts who each took part in nine different space missions aboard the International Space Station (ISS), for up to 6 months. Pre-flight HR and BP readings were obtained in both the standing and supine positions on Earth and were taken as reference values. Our results show that HR and arterial BP in space equal pre-flight supine values. In all subjects, HR and mean arterial BP (MAP) were lower in space compared with pre-flight standing (both 0.05). HR in space was well maintained at pre-flight supine level for up to 6 months in all astronauts while MAP tended to adapt to a level in between the ground-based standing and supine positions. Also pulse pressure (PP) decreased over the course of long duration spaceflight. In conclusion, our data indicate that weightlessness relaxes the circulation in humans for an extended duration of up to 6 months in space.
Research Containing: Time Factors
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.
Human Elastic Cartilage Engineering from Cartilage Progenitor Cells Using Rotating Wall Vessel Bioreactor
Transplantation of bioengineered elastic cartilage is considered to be a promising approach for patients with craniofacial defects. We have previously shown that human ear perichondrium harbors a population of cartilage progenitor cells (CPCs). The aim of this study was to examine the use of a rotating wall vessel (RWV) bioreactor for CPCs to engineer 3-D elastic cartilage in vitro. Human CPCs isolated from ear perichondrium were expanded and differentiated into chondrocytes under 2-D culture conditions. Fully differentiated CPCs were seeded into recently developed pC-HAp/ChS (porous material consisted of collagen, hydroxyapatite, and chondroitinsulfate) scaffolds and 3-D cultivated utilizing a RWV bioreactor. 3-D engineered constructs appeared shiny with a yellowish, cartilage-like morphology. The shape of the molded scaffold was maintained after RWV cultivation. Hematoxylin and eosin staining showed engraftment of CPCs inside pC-HAp/ChS. Alcian blue and Elastica Van Gieson staining showed of proteoglycan and elastic fibers, which are unique extracellular matrices of elastic cartilage. Thus, human CPCs formed elastic cartilage-like tissue after 3-D cultivation in a RWV bioreactor. These techniques may assist future efforts to reconstruct complicate structures composed of elastic cartilage in vitro.
<Go to ISI>://WOS:000304240400095
The International Space Station will allow extended habitation in space and long-term exposure to microgravity (microG). A concern is the impact of long-term microG exposure on the ability of species to reproduce. The model often used to simulate microG is rat hindlimb suspension (HLS), where the hindlimbs are elevated above the cage floor with a tail harness. Experiments described here are the first to examine the effect of long-term HLS on testicular function in adult male rats. Free-roaming (controls), animals with only the tail harnessed but hindlimbs in contact with the cage floor (TO), and HLS animals were tested for 6 wk. Cryptorchidism was prevented in TO and HLS animals by partial constriction of the inguinal canal with sutures. All parameters were compared at the end of the 6-wk experiment. Testicular weights and spermatogenesis were significantly reduced by HLS, such that no spermatogenic cells beyond round spermatids were present and epididymides were devoid of mature sperm. In many tubules, loss of all germ cells, except a few spermatogonia, resulting in histopathology similar to the Sertoli cell, was observed. Spermatogenesis appeared unaffected in control and TO animals. Sertoli and Leydig cell appearance, testosterone, luteinizing hormone, and follicle-stimulating hormone levels, and epididymal and seminal vesicle weight were unchanged by HLS. Cortisone was not elevated by HLS; thus stress may not be a factor. These results demonstrate that spermatogenesis is severely inhibited by long-term HLS, whereas testicular androgen production is not. These results have significant implications regarding serious effects of long-term exposure to microG on the reproductive capability of scrotal mammals, including humans.
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.
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.
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.
CONTEXT: Limited data suggest that testosterone is decreased during space flight, which could contribute to bone and muscle loss. OBJECTIVE: The main objective was to assess testosterone and hormone status in long- and short-duration space flight and bed rest environments and to determine relationships with other physiological systems, including bone and muscle. DESIGN: Blood and urine samples were collected before, during, and after long-duration space flight. Samples were also collected before and after 12- to 14-d missions and from participants in 30- to 90-d bed rest studies. SETTING: Space flight studies were conducted on the International Space Station and before and after Space Shuttle missions. Bed rest studies were conducted in a clinical research center setting. Data from Skylab missions are also presented. PARTICIPANTS: All of the participants were male, and they included 15 long-duration and nine short-duration mission crew members and 30 bed rest subjects. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Serum total, free, and bioavailable testosterone were measured along with serum and urinary cortisol, serum dehydroepiandrosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, and SHBG. RESULTS: Total, free, and bioavailable testosterone was not changed during long-duration space flight but were decreased (P < 0.01) on landing day after these flights and after short-duration space flight. There were no changes in other hormones measured. Testosterone concentrations dropped before and soon after bed rest, but bed rest itself had no effect on testosterone. CONCLUSIONS: There was no evidence for decrements in testosterone during long-duration space flight or bed rest.
Benefits for bone from resistance exercise and nutrition in long-duration spaceflight: Evidence from biochemistry and densitometry
Exercise has shown little success in mitigating bone loss from long-duration spaceflight. The first crews of the International Space Station (ISS) used the "interim resistive exercise device" (iRED), which allowed loads of up to 297 lb(f) (or 1337 N) but provided little protection of bone or no greater protection than aerobic exercise. In 2008, the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (ARED), which allowed absolute loads of up to 600 lb(f) (1675 N), was launched to the ISS. We report dietary intake, bone densitometry, and biochemical markers in 13 crewmembers on ISS missions from 2006 to 2009. Of these 13, 8 had access to the iRED and 5 had access to the ARED. In both groups, bone-specific alkaline phosphatase tended to increase during flight toward the end of the mission (p = 0.06) and increased 30 days after landing (p < 0.001). Most markers of bone resorption were also increased in both groups during flight and 30 days after landing (p < 0.05). Bone densitometry revealed significant interactions (time and exercise device) for pelvis bone mineral density (BMD) and bone mineral content (p < 0.01), hip femoral neck BMD (p < 0.05), trochanter BMD (p < 0.05), and total hip BMD (p < 0.05). These variables were unchanged from preflight only for ARED crewmembers, who also returned from flight with higher percent lean mass and lower percent fat mass. Body mass was unchanged after flight in both groups. All crewmembers had nominal vitamin D status (75 +/- 17 nmol/L) before and during flight. These data document that resistance exercise, coupled with adequate energy intake (shown by maintenance of body mass determined by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry [DXA]) and vitamin D, can maintain bone in most regions during 4- to 6-month missions in microgravity. This is the first evidence that improving nutrition and resistance exercise during spaceflight can attenuate the expected BMD deficits previously observed after prolonged missions.
Bone loss, a key concern for long-duration space travelers, is typically considered a female issue. The number of women who have flown long-duration space missions is now great enough to allow a quantitative comparison of changes in bone and renal stone risk by sex. Participants were 42 astronauts (33 men and 9 women) on long-duration missions to the International Space Station. Bone mineral density (by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) and biochemical markers of bone metabolism (from blood and urine samples) were evaluated before and after flight. Data were analyzed in two groups, based on available resistance exercise equipment. Missions were 49 to 215 days in duration, flown between 2000 and 2012. The bone density response to spaceflight was the same for men and women in both exercise groups. The bone mineral density response to flight was the same for men and women, and the typical decrease in bone mineral density (whole body and/or regional) after flight was not observed for either sex for those using an advanced resistive exercise device. Biochemical markers of bone formation and resorption responded similarly in male and female astronauts. The response of urinary supersaturation risk to spaceflight was not significantly different between men and women, although risks were typically increased after flight in both groups, and risks were greater in men than in women before and after flight. The responses of men and women to spaceflight with respect to these measures of bone health were not different.