Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Experiments show 'artificial gravity' can prevent muscle loss in space

24.07.2009
UTMB/NASA study used centrifuge and simulated weightlessness with bed rest

When the Apollo 11 crew got back from the moon, 40 years ago this week, they showed no ill effects from seven days spent in weightlessness.

But as American astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts began conducting longer-duration space flights, scientists noticed a disturbing trend: the longer humans stay in zero gravity, the more muscle they lose.

Space travelers exposed to weightlessness for a year or more — such as those on a mission to Mars, for example — could wind up crippled on their return to Earth, unable to walk or even sit up.

Now, researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have conducted the first human experiments using a device intended to counteract this effect — a NASA centrifuge that spins a test subject with his or her feet outward 30 times a minute, creating an effect similar to standing against a force two and half times that of gravity. Working with volunteers kept in bed for three weeks to simulate zero-gravity conditions, they found that just one hour a day on the centrifuge was sufficient to restore muscle synthesis.

"This gives us a potential countermeasure that we might be able to use on extended space flights and solve a lot of the problems with muscle wasting," said UTMB associate professor Douglas Paddon-Jones, senior author of a paper on the centrifuge research in the July issue of the Journal of Applied Physiology. "This small amount of loading, one hour a day of essentially standing up, maintained the potential for muscle growth."

Fifteen healthy male volunteers participated in the study, carried out in UTMB's General Clinical Research Center. All spent 21 days lying in a slightly head-down position that previous investigations have shown produces effects on muscles like those of weightlessness. Eight rode the centrifuge daily. Measurements of protein synthesis and breakdown in thigh and calf muscle were taken at the beginning and end of the investigation, using muscle biopsies and blood samples. The results showed that members of the centrifuge group continued to make thigh muscle protein at a normal rate, while the control group's muscle synthesis rate dropped by almost half.

Paddon-Jones cautioned that the rate of muscle protein synthesis alone does not necessarily predict changes in muscle function. But, he pointed out, it was still a strong indicator that a relatively brief intervention could have a positive effect in preventing zero-gravity muscle loss — one that might also be applied on Earth.

"We've studied elderly inpatients here at UTMB — 95 percent of the time they're completely inactive, and in three days they lose more than a kilogram of muscle," Paddon-Jones said. "A human centrifuge may not be the answer, but we are interested in seeing if something as simple as increasing the amount of time our patients spend standing and moving can slow down this process. This NASA research is one of a series of important studies that we hope to ultimately translate to a clinical population."

The other authors of the Journal of Applied Physiology article ("Artificial gravity maintains skeletal muscle protein synthesis during 21 days simulated microgravity") were assistant professor T. Brock Symons, associate professor Melinda Sheffield-Moore, associate professor David L. Chinkes and professor Arny Ferrando. NASA, the National Institutes of Health and UTMB's Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center provided support for the investigation.

Jim Kelly | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.utmb.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht 'Living bandages': NUST MISIS scientists develop biocompatible anti-burn nanofibers
16.02.2018 | National University of Science and Technology MISIS

nachricht New process allows tailor-made malaria research
16.02.2018 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

Im Focus: Autonomous 3D scanner supports individual manufacturing processes

Let’s say the armrest is broken in your vintage car. As things stand, you would need a lot of luck and persistence to find the right spare part. But in the world of Industrie 4.0 and production with batch sizes of one, you can simply scan the armrest and print it out. This is made possible by the first ever 3D scanner capable of working autonomously and in real time. The autonomous scanning system will be on display at the Hannover Messe Preview on February 6 and at the Hannover Messe proper from April 23 to 27, 2018 (Hall 6, Booth A30).

Part of the charm of vintage cars is that they stopped making them long ago, so it is special when you do see one out on the roads. If something breaks or...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Fingerprints of quantum entanglement

16.02.2018 | Information Technology

'Living bandages': NUST MISIS scientists develop biocompatible anti-burn nanofibers

16.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Hubble sees Neptune's mysterious shrinking storm

16.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>