Decreased thin filament density and length in human atrophic soleus muscle fibers after spaceflight.
Soleus muscle fibers were examined electron microscopically from pre- and postflight biopsies of four astronauts orbited for 17 days during the Life and Microgravity Sciences Spacelab Mission (June 1996). Myofilament density and spacing were normalized to a 2. 4-microm sarcomere length. Thick filament density ( approximately 1, 062 filaments/microm(2)) and spacing ( approximately 32.5 nm) were unchanged by spaceflight. Preflight thin filament density (2, 976/microm(2)) decreased significantly (P < 0.01) to 2,215/microm(2) in the overlap A band region as a result of a 17% filament loss and a 9% increase in short filaments. Normal fibers had 13% short thin filaments. The 26% decrease in thin filaments is consistent with preliminary findings of a 14% increase in the myosin-to-actin ratio. Lower thin filament density was calculated to increase thick-to-thin filament spacing in vivo from 17 to 23 nm. Decreased density is postulated to promote earlier cross-bridge detachment and faster contraction velocity. Atrophic fibers may be more susceptible to sarcomere reloading damage, because force per thin filament is estimated to increase by 23%. (+info)
Space flight is associated with rapid decreases of undercarboxylated osteocalcin and increases of markers of bone resorption without changes in their circadian variation: observations in two cosmonauts.
BACKGROUND: Microgravity induces bone loss by mechanism(s) that remain largely unknown. METHODS: We measured biochemical markers related to bone remodeling in two cosmonauts before, during, and after 21- and 180-day space flights, respectively. RESULTS: During both flights, type I procollagen propeptide and bone alkaline phosphatase decreased as early as 8 days after launch. Undercarboxylated osteocalcin percentage increased early and remained high during both flights. Vitamin K supplementation restored carboxylation of osteocalcin during the long-term flight. Urinary and serum C-telopeptide of type I collagen (CTX) increased as early as day 8 of the flights; the increase was greater in serum than in urine. Pyridinoline, free deoxypyridinoline, and N-telopeptide increased less than CTX during the short-term space flight. The circadian rhythm of bone resorption assessed by urine CTX and free deoxypyridinoline was not altered by microgravity. CONCLUSION: Vitamin K metabolism or action and bone remodeling may be altered in cosmonauts. (+info)
Reactivation and shedding of cytomegalovirus in astronauts during spaceflight.
The reactivation of cytomegalovirus (CMV) in 71 astronauts was investigated, using polymerase chain reaction. A significantly greater (P<.0001) shedding frequency was found in urine samples from astronauts before spaceflight (10.6%) than in urine from the healthy control subject group (1.2%). Two of 4 astronauts studied during spaceflight shed CMV in urine. A significant increase (P<.0001) in CMV antibody titer, compared with baseline values, was also found 10 days before spaceflight. CMV antibody titer was further increased (P<.001) 3 days after landing, compared with 10 days before the mission. Significant increases in stress hormones were also found after landing. These results demonstrate that CMV reactivation occurred in astronauts before spaceflight and indicate that CMV may further reactivate during spaceflight. (+info)
Effects of long-term spaceflight on mechanical properties of muscles in humans.
The effects of long-term spaceflight (90-180 days) on the contractile and elastic characteristics of the human plantarflexor muscles were studied in 14 cosmonauts before and 2-3 days after landing. Despite countermeasures practiced aboard, spaceflight was found to induce a decrease in maximal isometric torque (17%), whereas an index of maximal shortening velocity was found to increase (31%). In addition, maximal muscle activation evaluated during isokinetic tests decreased by 39%. Changes in musculotendinous stiffness and whole joint stiffness were characterized by means of quick-release movements and sinusoidal perturbations. Musculotendinous stiffness was found to be increased by 25%. Whole joint stiffness decreased under passive conditions (21%), whereas whole joint stiffness under active conditions remained unchanged after spaceflight (-1%). This invariance suggests an adaptive mechanism to counterbalance the decrease in stiffness of passive structures by an increased active stiffness. Changes in neural drive could participate in this equilibrium. (+info)
Static and dynamic postural control in long-term microgravity: evidence of a dual adaptation.
The adaptation of dynamic movement-posture coordination during forward trunk bending was investigated in long-term weightlessness. Three-dimensional movement analysis was carried out in two astronauts during a 4-mo microgravity exposure. The principal component analysis was applied to joint-angle kinematics for the assessment of angular synergies. The anteroposterior center of mass (CM) displacement accompanying trunk flexion was also quantified. The results reveal that subjects kept typically terrestrial strategies of movement-posture coordination. The temporary disruption of joint-angular synergies observed at subjects' first in-flight session was promptly recovered when repetitive sessions in flight were analyzed. The CM anteroposterior shift was consistently <3-4 cm, suggesting that subjects could dynamically control the CM position throughout the whole flight. This is in contrast to the observed profound microgravity-induced disruption of the quasi-static body orientation and initial CM positioning. Although this study was based on only two subjects, evidence is provided that static and dynamic postural control might be under two separate mechanisms, adapting with their specific time course to the constraints of microgravity. (+info)
Effect of long-duration spaceflight on postural control during self-generated perturbations.
This report is the first systematic evaluation of the effects of prolonged weightlessness on the bipedal postural control processes during self-generated perturbations produced by voluntary upper limb movements. Spaceflight impacts humans in a variety of ways, one of which is compromised postflight postural control. We examined the neuromuscular activation characteristics and center of pressure (COP) motion associated with arm movement of eight subjects who experienced long-duration spaceflight (3--6 mo) aboard the Mir space station. Surface electromyography, arm acceleration, and COP motion were collected while astronauts performed rapid unilateral shoulder flexions before and after spaceflight. Subjects generally displayed compromised postural control after flight, as evidenced by modified COP peak-to-peak anterior-posterior and mediolateral excursion, and pathlength relative to preflight values. These changes were associated with disrupted neuromuscular activation characteristics, particularly after the completion of arm acceleration (i.e., when subjects were attempting to maintain upright posture in response to self-generated perturbations). These findings suggest that, although the subjects were able to assemble coordination modes that enabled them to generate rapid arm movements, the subtle control necessary to maintain bipedal equilibrium evident in their preflight performance is compromised after long-duration spaceflight. (+info)
Code of conduct for the International Space Station Crew. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Interim final rule.
NASA is issuing new regulations entitled "International Space Station Crew," to implement certain provisions of the International Space Station (ISS) Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) regarding ISS crewmembers' observance of an ISS Code of Conduct. (+info)
Functional and structural adaptations of skeletal muscle to microgravity.
Our purpose is to summarize the major effects of space travel on skeletal muscle with particular emphasis on factors that alter function. The primary deleterious changes are muscle atrophy and the associated decline in peak force and power. Studies on both rats and humans demonstrate a rapid loss of cell mass with microgravity. In rats, a reduction in muscle mass of up to 37% was observed within 1 week. For both species, the antigravity soleus muscle showed greater atrophy than the fast-twitch gastrocnemius. However, in the rat, the slow type I fibers atrophied more than the fast type II fibers, while in humans, the fast type II fibers were at least as susceptible to space-induced atrophy as the slow fiber type. Space flight also resulted in a significant decline in peak force. For example, the maximal voluntary contraction of the human plantar flexor muscles declined by 20-48% following 6 months in space, while a 21% decline in the peak force of the soleus type I fibers was observed after a 17-day shuttle flight. The reduced force can be attributed both to muscle atrophy and to a selective loss of contractile protein. The former was the primary cause because, when force was expressed per cross-sectional area (kNm(-2)), the human fast type II and slow type I fibers of the soleus showed no change and a 4% decrease in force, respectively. Microgravity has been shown to increase the shortening velocity of the plantar flexors. This increase can be attributed both to an elevated maximal shortening velocity (V(0)) of the individual slow and fast fibers and to an increased expression of fibers containing fast myosin. Although the cause of the former is unknown, it might result from the selective loss of the thin filament actin and an associated decline in the internal drag during cross-bridge cycling. Despite the increase in fiber V(0), peak power of the slow type I fiber was reduced following space flight. The decreased power was a direct result of the reduced force caused by the fiber atrophy. In addition to fiber atrophy and the loss of force and power, weightlessness reduces the ability of the slow soleus to oxidize fats and increases the utilization of muscle glycogen, at least in rats. This substrate change leads to an increased rate of fatigue. Finally, with return to the 1g environment of earth, rat studies have shown an increased occurrence of eccentric contraction-induced fiber damage. The damage occurs with re-loading and not in-flight, but the etiology has not been established. (+info)