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Spacelab Life Sciences flight experiments: an integrated approach to the study of cardiovascular deconditioning and orthostatic hypotensionThe microgravity environment of spaceflight produces rapid cardiovascular changes which are adaptive and appropriate in that setting, but are associated with significant deconditioning and orthostatic hypotension on return to Earth's gravity. The rapidity with which these space flight induced changes appear and disappear provides an ideal model for studying the underlying pathophysiological mechanisms of deconditioning and orthostatic hypotension, regardless of etiology. Since significant deconditioning is seen after flights of very short duration, muscle atrophy due to inactivity plays, at most, a small role. These changes in circulatory control associated with cephalad fluid shifts, rather than inactivity per se, are probably more important factors. In order to test this hypothesis in a systematic way, a multidisciplinary approach which defines and integrates inputs and responses from a wide variety of circulatory sub-systems is required. The cardiovascular experiments selected for Spacelab Life Sciences flights 1 and 2 provide such an approach. Both human and animal models will be utilized. Pre- and post-flight characterization of the payload crew includes determination of maximal exercise capacity (bicycle ergometry), orthostatic tolerance (lower body negative pressure), alpha and beta adrenergic sensitivity (isoproterenol and phenylephrine infusions), baroreflex sensitivity (ECG-gated, stepwise changes in carotid artery transmural pressure with a pneumatic neck collar), and responses to a 24 h period of 5 deg head-down tilt. Measurements of cardiac output (CO2 and C2H2 rebreathing), cardiac chamber dimensions (phased-array 2-dimensional echocardiography), direct central venous pressure, leg volume (Thornton sock), limb blood flow and venous compliance (occlusion plethysmography), blood and plasma volumes, renal plasma flow and glomerular filtration rates, and various hormonal levels including catecholamines and atrial natriuretic factor will also be obtained. The central venous catheter will be inserted immediately pre-launch and monitored with heart rate and blood pressure in-flight until cardiac output, respiratory gas exchange and quantitative 2D echocardiography measurements can be performed. In-flight hemodynamic measurements will be repeated at rest and during submaximal exercise daily and also during maximal exercise midway through the flight to document the timecourse and extent of cardiovascular changes in the payload crew. Parallel studies are planned for the animals. In addition to measurements of right atrial and aortic pressures and cardiac output, a dorsal micro-circulatory chamber will allow determinations of changes in capillary and venular architecture and function in six of the rats. The techniques and findings from many of the SLS-1 and 2 supporting studies have already yielded significant information about circulatory regulation in patients with both hypo- and hypertension. The flight experiments themselves will provide new data to test the validity of both animal and human models currently used for simulating the fluid shifts of a micro-gravity environment. The development of effective countermeasures, not only for short and long duration space travellers, but also for Earth-bound medical patients can then be physiologically based on experimental data rather than anecdote.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Gaffney, F. A. (University of Texas Health Science Center Dallas, TX 75235-9034, United States)
Date Acquired
August 21, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1987
Publication Information
Publication: Acta astronautica
Volume: 15
Issue: 5
ISSN: 0094-5765
Subject Category
Life Sciences (General)
Distribution Limits
Non-NASA Center
STS-40 Shuttle Project
short duration
STS-58 Shuttle Project
Flight Experiment
NASA Discipline Number 00-00
Review, Tutorial
NASA Discipline Cardiopulmonary
NASA Program Flight