Research on the effects of a long stay in space. “Manifestations of changes in the brain”

The general negative impact of long-term space flights on the human body has been known for a long time – the recognized changes include: muscle atrophy, bone mass loss, deterioration of vision and altered intestinal bacterial flora. Now, brain tissue damage has started to be added to this list.

In Russian men who have spent a lot of time in space, an increased occurrence of indicator proteins indicating the occurrence of adverse changes in the brain has been observed. Scientists from Gothenburg warn on this example that long space missions can negatively affect the nervous system of cosmonauts.

The researchers observed a group of five Russian cosmonauts, age 49 on average, who worked on board the International Space Station for 5.5 months each time. Scientists took blood samples from volunteers – before and after the mission (20 days before the flight into orbit and one day, one week and three weeks after their return).

Out of five selected indicators (biomarkers) indicating changes harmful to brain cells, three showed higher concentrations – light neurofilament polypeptide (NFL), acid filamentous protein (GFAP) and amyloid beta Aß40. “This is the first time that concrete evidence of brain cell damage has been documented in blood tests taken after space flight,” said lead author Prof. Henrik Zetterberg. more common in the future, ”he concluded.

Professor Zetterberg emphasized that achieving a full understanding of the scale of the problem and methods of prevention will require extensive scientific and engineering cooperation. He stated that it was not really clear whether the changes observed were due to weightlessness, stress from take-off and landing, or increased exposure to any radiation. “Many experimental studies involving humans can be carried out on Earth” – added the specialist.

The results published in JAMA Neurology are in line with previous analyzes indicating changes in the work of the brains of participants in space missions carried out with the use of magnetic resonance imaging. Some studies also indicated the impact of specific tasks performed in space. “If we can identify what is causing the damage, the biomarkers used can help us find ways to deal with the problem,” says Prof. Zetterberg.

Źródło: University of Gothenburg/PAP