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Sustained Partial Sleep Deprivation: Effects on Immune Modulation and Growth FactorsThe vulnerability to medical emergencies is greatest in space where there are real limits to the availability or effectiveness of ground based assistance. Moreover, astronaut safety and health maintenance will be of increasing importance as we venture out into space for extended periods of time. It is therefore critical to understand the mechanisms of the regulatory physiology of homeostatic systems (sleep, circadian, neuroendocrine, fluid and nutritional balance) and the key roles played in adaptation. This synergy project has combined aims of the "Human Performance Factors, Sleep and Chronobiology Team"; the "Immunology, Infection and Hematology Team"; and the "Muscle Alterations and Atrophy Team", to broadly address the effects of long term sleep reduction, as is frequently encountered in space exploration, on neuroendocrine, neuroimmune and circulating growth factors. Astronaut sleep is frequently curtailed to averages of between 4- 6.5 hours per night. There is evidence that this amount of sleep is inadequate for maintaining optimal daytime functioning. However, there is a lack of information concerning the effects of chronic sleep restriction, or reduction, on regulatory physiology in general, and there have been no controlled studies of the cumulative effects of chronic sleep reduction on neuroendocrine and neuroimmune parameters. This synergy project represents a pilot study designed to characterize the effects of chronic partial sleep deprivation (PSD) on neuroendocrine, neuroimmune and growth factors. This project draws its subjects from two (of 18) conditions of the larger NSBRI project, "Countermeasures to Neurobehavioral Deficits from Cumulative Partial Sleep Deprivation During Space Flight", one of the projects on the "Human Performance Factors, Sleep and Chronobiology Team ". For the purposes of this study, to investigate the effects of chronic sleep loss on neuroendocrine and neuroimmune function, we have focused on the two extreme sleep conditions from this larger study: a 4.2 hour per night condition, and a 8.2 hour per night condition. During space flight, muscle mass and bone density are reduced, apparently due to loss of GH and IGF-I, associated with microgravity. Since >70% of growth hormone (GH) is secreted at night in normal adults, we hypothesized that the chronic sleep restriction to 4 hours per night would reduce GH levels as measured in the periphery. In this synergy project, in collaboration with the "Muscle Alterations and Atrophy Team ", we are measuring insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) in peripheral circulation to test the prediction that it will be reduced by chronic sleep restriction. In addition to stress modulation of immune function, recent research suggests that sleep is also involved. While we all have the common experience of being sleepy when suffering from infection, and being susceptible to infection when not getting enough sleep, the mechanisms involved in this process are not understood and until recently have gone largely overlooked. We believe that the immune function changes seen in spaceflight may also be related to the cumulative effects of sleep loss. Moreover, in space flight, the possibility of compromised immune function or of the reactivation of latent viruses are serious potential hazards for the success of long term missions. Confined living conditions, reduced sleep, altered diet and stress are all factors that may compromise immune function, thereby increasing the risks of developing and transmitting disease. Medical complications, which would not pose serious problems on earth, may be disastrous if they emerged in space.
Document ID
Document Type
Mullington, Janet M.
(Harvard Medical School Boston, MA United States)
Date Acquired
August 19, 2013
Publication Date
September 30, 1999
Publication Information
Publication: National Space Biomedical Research Institute
Subject Category
Aerospace Medicine
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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IDRelationTitle20000029456Analytic PrimaryNational Space Biomedical Research Institute
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