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Neural Control of the Cardiovascular System in SpaceDuring the acute transition from lying supine to standing upright, a large volume of blood suddenly moves from the chest into the legs. To prevent fainting, the blood pressure control system senses this change immediately, and rapidly adjusts flow (by increasing heart rate) and resistance to flow (by constricting the blood vessels) to restore blood pressure and maintain brain blood flow. If this system is inadequate, the brain has a backup plan. Blood vessels in the brain can adjust their diameter to keep blood flow constant. If blood pressure drops, the brain blood vessels dilate; if blood pressure increases, the brain blood vessels constrict. This process, which is called autoregulation, allows the brain to maintain a steady stream of oxygen, even when blood pressure changes. We examined what changes in the blood pressure control system or cerebral autoregulation contribute to the blood pressure control problems seen after spaceflight. We asked: (1) does the adaptation to spaceflight cause an adaptation in the blood pressure control system that impairs the ability of the system to constrict blood vessels on return to Earth?; (2) if such a defect exists, could we pinpoint the neural pathways involved?; and (3) does cerebral autoregulation become abnormal during spaceflight, impairing the body s ability to maintain constant brain blood flow when standing upright on Earth? We stressed the blood pressure control system using lower body negative pressure, upright tilt, handgrip exercise, and cold stimulation of the hand. Standard cardiovascular parameters were measured along with sympathetic nerve activity (the nerve activity causing blood vessels to constrict) and brain blood flow. We confirmed that the primary cardiovascular effect of spaceflight was a postflight reduction in upright stroke volume (the amount of blood the heart pumps per beat). Heart rate increased appropriately for the reduction in stroke volume, thereby showing that changes in heart rate regulation alone cannot be responsible for orthostatic hypotension after spaceflight. All of the astronauts in our study had an increase in sympathetic nerve activity during upright tilting on Earth postflight. This increase was well calibrated for the reduction in stroke volume induced by the upright posture. The results obtained from stimulating the sympathetic nervous system using handgrip exercise or cold stress were also entirely normal during and after spaceflight. No astronaut had reduced cerebral blood flow during upright tilt, and cerebral autoregulation was normal or even enhanced inflight. These experiments show that the cardiovascular adaptation to spaceflight does not lead to a defect in the regulation of blood vessel constriction via sympathetic nerve activity. In addition, cerebral autoregulation is well-maintained. It is possible that despite the increased sympathetic nerve activity, blood vessels did not respond with a greater degree of constriction than occurred preflight, possibly uncovering a limit of vasoconstrictor reserve.
Document ID
20030068219
Document Type
Other
Authors
Levine, Benjamin D. (Texas Univ. Dallas, TX, United States)
Pawelczyk, James A. (Pennsylvania State Univ. University Park, PA, United States)
Zuckerman, Julie (Texas Univ. Dallas, TX, United States)
Zhang, Rong (Texas Univ. Dallas, TX, United States)
Fu, Qi (Texas Univ. Dallas, TX, United States)
Iwasaki, Kenichi (Texas Univ. Dallas, TX, United States)
Ray, Chet (Texas Univ. Dallas, TX, United States)
Blomqvist, C. Gunnar (Texas Univ. Dallas, TX, United States)
Lane, Lynda D. (Vanderbilt Univ. Nashville, TN, United States)
Giller, Cole A. (Texas Univ. Dallas, TX, United States)
Date Acquired
September 7, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2003
Publication Information
Publication: The Neurolab Spacelab Mission: Neuroscience Research in Space: Results from the STS-90, Neurolab Spacelab Mission
Subject Category
Aerospace Medicine
Funding Number(s)
CONTRACT_GRANT: NAS9-19540
CONTRACT_GRANT: NIH-HL-53206
Distribution Limits
Public
Copyright
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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IDRelationTitle20030068190Analytic PrimaryThe Neurolab Spacelab Mission: Neuroscience Research in Space: Results from the STS-90, Neurolab Spacelab Mission