Human Pathophysiological Adaptations to the Space Environment
Gian C. Demontis ; Marco M. Germani ; Enrico G. Caiani ; et al. ; - ASI Sponsor
Aug - 2017
DOI: 10.3389/fphys.2017.00547

journal : Frontiers in Physiology

Volume : 8 ; Issue : August 2017
type: Article Journal

Space is an extreme environment for the human body, where during long-term missions microgravity and high radiation levels represent major threats to crew health. Intriguingly, space flight (SF) imposes on the body of highly selected, well-trained, and healthy individuals (astronauts and cosmonauts) pathophysiological adaptive changes akin to an accelerated aging process and to some diseases. Such effects, becoming manifest over a time span of weeks (i.e., cardiovascular deconditioning) to months (i.e., loss of bone density and muscle atrophy) of exposure to weightlessness, can be reduced through proper countermeasures during SF and in due time are mostly reversible after landing. Based on these considerations, it is increasingly accepted that SF might provide a mechanistic insight into certain pathophysiological processes, a concept of interest to pre-nosological medicine. In this article, we will review the main stress factors encountered in space and their impact on the human body and will also discuss the possible lessons learned with space exploration in reference to human health on Earth. In fact, this is a productive, cross-fertilized, endeavor in which studies performed on Earth yield countermeasures for protection of space crew health, and space research is translated into health measures for Earth-bound population.

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Notes : AcknowledgmentsDA was recipient of contracts ILSRA-2009-1026 from the European Space Agency and 2013-066-R.0 (SFEF) from the Italian Space Agency. EC was the recipient of contracts 2013-032-R.0 (AEQUABED) and 2013-033-R.0 (QT-BED) from the Italian Space Agency. [...]