Leukocyte subsets and neutrophil function after short-term spaceflight.
Changes in leukocyte subpopulations and function after spaceflight have been observed but the mechanisms underlying these changes are not well defined. This study investigated the effects of short-term spaceflight (8-15 days) on circulating leukocyte subsets, stress hormones, immunoglobulin levels, and neutrophil function. At landing, a 1.5-fold increase in neutrophils was observed compared with preflight values; lymphocytes were slightly decreased, whereas the results were variable for monocytes. No significant changes were observed in plasma levels of immunoglobulins, cortisol, or adrenocorticotropic hormone. In contrast, urinary epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol were significantly elevated at landing. Band neutrophils were observed in 9 of 16 astronauts. Neutrophil chemotactic assays showed a 10-fold decrease in the optimal dose response after landing. Neutrophil adhesion to endothelial cells was increased both before and after spaceflight. At landing, the expression of MAC-1 was significantly decreased while L-selectin was significantly increased. These functional alterations may be of clinical significance on long-duration space missions. (+info)
Heart period and heart period variability during sleep on the MIR space station.
The long-term acclimation of cardiac rhythms to microgravity was studied in four astronauts aboard the Russian space station MIR during wakefulness and sleep. Sleep polygraphies were obtained between the third and the 30th day in space and, in addition, prior to mission on the ground. From each of the sleep polygraphies, beat-to-beat intervals of cardiac rhythms were determined. The response of heart period and heart period variability to the stimulus microgravity was tested during sleep across sleep stages and during waking. A lengthening of heart period by about 100 ms was found in space compared to measurements on the ground. The slowing of heart rate was more pronounced for non-REM sleep than for REM sleep. A systematic change in heart period in relation to the duration of the stay in space could not be detected. An analysis of heart period variability in the high frequency (respiratory sinus arrhythmia) band supports the hypothesis that the decrease of heart rate under microgravity is produced by an increase in parasympathetic activity. Testing the response of cardiac rhythms to microgravity across distinct behavioural states seems to be a powerful tool to investigate the cardiovascular system. (+info)
Effect of a 17 day spaceflight on contractile properties of human soleus muscle fibres.
1. Soleus biopsies were obtained from four male astronauts 45 days before and within 2 h after a 17 day spaceflight. 2. For all astronauts, single chemically skinned post-flight fibres expressing only type I myosin heavy chain (MHC) developed less average peak Ca2+ activated force (Po) during fixed-end contractions (0.78 +/- 0. 02 vs. 0.99 +/- 0.03 mN) and shortened at a greater mean velocity during unloaded contractions (Vo) (0.83 +/- 0.02 vs. 0.64 +/- 0.02 fibre lengths s-1) than pre-flight type I fibres. 3. The flight-induced decline in absolute Po was attributed to reductions in fibre diameter and/or Po per fibre cross-sectional area. Fibres from the astronaut who experienced the greatest relative loss of peak force also displayed a reduction in Ca2+ sensitivity. 4. The elevated Vo of the post-flight slow type I fibres could not be explained by alterations in myosin heavy or light chain composition. One alternative possibility is that the elevated Vo resulted from an increased myofilament lattice spacing. This hypothesis was supported by electron micrographic analysis demonstrating a reduction in thin filament density post-flight. 5. Post-flight fibres shortened at 30 % higher velocities than pre-flight fibres at external loads associated with peak power output. This increase in shortening velocity either reduced (2 astronauts) or prevented (2 astronauts) a post-flight loss in fibre absolute peak power (microN (fibre length) s-1). 6. The changes in soleus fibre diameter and function following spaceflight were similar to those observed after 17 days of bed rest. Although in-flight exercise countermeasures probably reduced the effects of microgravity, the results support the idea that ground-based bed rest can serve as a model of human spaceflight. 7. In conclusion, 17 days of spaceflight decreased force and increased shortening velocity of single Ca2+-activated muscle cells expressing type I MHC. The increase in shortening velocity greatly reduced the impact that impaired force production had on absolute peak power. (+info)
Effects of spaceflight on rhesus quadrupedal locomotion after return to 1G.
Effects of spaceflight on Rhesus quadrupedal locomotion after return to 1G. Locomotor performance, activation patterns of the soleus (Sol), medial gastrocnemius (MG), vastus lateralis (VL), and tibialis anterior (TA) and MG tendon force during quadrupedal stepping were studied in adult Rhesus before and after 14 days of either spaceflight (n = 2) or flight simulation at 1G (n = 3). Flight simulation involved duplication of the spaceflight conditions and experimental protocol in a 1G environment. Postflight, but not postsimulation, electromyographic (EMG) recordings revealed clonus-like activity in all muscles. Compared with preflight, the cycle period and burst durations of the primary extensors (Sol, MG, and VL) tended to decrease postflight. These decreases were associated with shorter steps. The flexor (TA) EMG burst duration postflight was similar to preflight, whereas the burst amplitude was elevated. Consequently, the Sol:TA and MG:TA EMG amplitude ratios were lower following flight, reflecting a "flexor bias." Together, these alterations in mean EMG amplitudes reflect differential adaptations in motor-unit recruitment patterns of flexors and extensors as well as fast and slow motor pools. Shorter cycle period and burst durations persisted throughout the 20-day postflight testing period, whereas mean EMG returned to preflight levels by 17 days postflight. Compared with presimulation, the simulation group showed slight increases in the cycle period and burst durations of all muscles. Mean EMG amplitude decreased in the Sol, increased in the MG and VL, and was unchanged in the TA. Thus adaptations observed postsimulation were different from those observed postflight, indicating that there was a response unique to the microgravity environment, i.e., the modulations in the nervous system controlling locomotion cannot merely be attributed to restriction of movement but appear to be the result of changes in the interpretation of load-related proprioceptive feedback to the nervous system. Peak MG tendon force amplitudes were approximately two times greater post- compared with preflight or presimulation. Adaptations in tendon force and EMG amplitude ratios indicate that the nervous system undergoes a reorganization of the recruitment patterns biased toward an increased recruitment of fast versus slow motor units and flexor versus extensor muscles. Combined, these data indicate that some details of the control of motor pools during locomotion are dependent on the persistence of Earth's gravitational environment. (+info)
Space travel directly induces skeletal muscle atrophy.
Space travel causes rapid and pronounced skeletal muscle wasting in humans that reduces their long-term flight capabilities. To develop effective countermeasures, the basis of this atrophy needs to be better understood. Space travel may cause muscle atrophy indirectly by altering circulating levels of factors such as growth hormone, glucocorticoids, and anabolic steroids and/or by a direct effect on the muscle fibers themselves. To determine whether skeletal muscle cells are directly affected by space travel, tissue-cultured avian skeletal muscle cells were tissue engineered into bioartificial muscles and flown in perfusion bioreactors for 9 to 10 days aboard the Space Transportation System (STS, i.e., Space Shuttle). Significant muscle fiber atrophy occurred due to a decrease in protein synthesis rates without alterations in protein degradation. Return of the muscle cells to Earth stimulated protein synthesis rates of both muscle-specific and extracellular matrix proteins relative to ground controls. These results show for the first time that skeletal muscle fibers are directly responsive to space travel and should be a target for countermeasure development. (+info)
The kinetics of translocation and cellular quantity of protein kinase C in human leukocytes are modified during spaceflight.
Protein kinase C (PKC) is a family of serine/threonine kinases that play an important role in mediating intracellular signal transduction in eukaryotes. U937 cells were exposed to microgravity during a space shuttle flight and stimulated with a radiolabeled phorbol ester ([3H]PDBu) to both specifically label and activate translocation of PKC from the cytosol to the particulate fraction of the cell. Although significant translocation of PKC occurred at all g levels, the kinetics of translocation in flight were significantly different from those on the ground. In addition, the total quantity of [3H]PDBu binding PKC was increased in flight compared to cells at 1 g on the ground, whereas the quantity in hypergravity (1.4 g) was decreased with respect to 1 g. Similarly, in purified human peripheral blood T cells the quantity of PKCdelta varied in inverse proportion to the g level for some experimental treatments. In addition to these novel findings, the results confirm earlier studies which showed that PKC is sensitive to changes in gravitational acceleration. The mechanisms of cellular gravisensitivity are poorly understood but the demonstrated sensitivity of PKC to this stimulus provides us with a useful means of measuring the effect of altered gravity levels on early cell activation events. (+info)
The effect of microgravity on morphology and gene expression of osteoblasts in vitro.
The mass and architecture of the skeletal system adapt, to some extent, to their mechanical environment. A site-specific bone loss of 1-2% is observed in astronauts and in-flight animals after 1 month of spaceflight. Biochemical data of astronauts and histomorphometric analysis of rat bones show that the change in bone mass is a result of decreased bone formation in association with normal (or increased) bone resorption. The changes in bone formation appear to be due in part to decreased osteoblast differentiation, matrix maturation, and mineralization. Recent data show that spaceflight alters the mRNA level for several bone-specific proteins in rat bone, suggesting that the characteristics of osteoblasts are altered during spaceflight. A possible underlying mechanism is that osteoblasts themselves are sensitive to altered gravity levels as suggested by several studies investigating the effect of microgravity on osteoblasts in vitro. Changes in cell and nuclear morphology were observed as well as alterations in the expression of growth factors (interleukin-6 and insulin-like growth factor binding proteins) and matrix proteins (collagen type I and osteocalcin). Taken together, this altered cellular function in combination with differences in local or systemic factors may mediate the effects of spaceflight on bone physiology. (+info)
Chromosome mechanics of fungi under spaceflight conditions--tetrad analysis of two-factor crosses between spore color mutants of Sordaria macrospora.
Spore color mutants of the fungus Sordaria macrospora Auersw. were crossed under spaceflight conditions on the space shuttle to MIR mission S/MM 05 (STS-81). The arrangement of spores of different colors in the asci allowed conclusions on the influence of spaceflight conditions on sexual recombination in fungi. Experiments on a 1-g centrifuge in space and in parallel on the ground were used for controls. The samples were analyzed microscopically on their return to earth. Each fruiting body was assessed separately. Statistical analysis of the data showed a significant increase in gene recombination frequencies caused by the heavy ion particle stream in space radiation. The lack of gravity did not influence crossing-over frequencies. Hyphae of the flown samples were assessed for DNA strand breaks. No increase in damage was found compared with the ground samples. It was shown that S. macrospora is able to repair radiation-induced DNA strand breaks within hours. (+info)