Last Published:  11/23/20 11:55:10 AM (Central)
Responsible Element: Human Health Countermeasures (HHC)
Status: Open
Present state of knowledge: Only 24 Apollo astronauts have traveled beyond the protection of van Allen Belts and been subjected to the combined effects of weightlessness and exposure to deep space radiation. The short-duration of these flight and the limits of medical technology of the era prevented a detailed understanding of the short-term effects of these exposures. Epidemiological analyses using the medical records for these individuals do not represent conclusive evidence as to the long-term cardiovascular health consequences. No data are available from the Apollo astronauts to ascertain any sex-specific effects. Some results from animal models are suggestive of combined effects of unloading and radiation exposure but the relative contributions have not been clearly defined, especially in the context of the mixed radiation exposure in deep space. It is currently unknown if spaceflight effects (e.g, weightlessness, reduced loading, circadian and immune dysregulation) and operations (e.g., altered oxygen levels [hyperoxia and hypoxia], sleep shifting) combined with radiation exposure will modify the cardiovascular disease risk.

Research approach: Combined exposures by hind-limb suspension and NSRL radiation and by radiation prior to flights on ISS in animals, and effects of duration (cell cultures, rodents). Occupational surveillance and data mining of medical records of future human subjects. Gateway human, cell and rodent studies will also be conducted.
Target for Closure
Understanding of the interaction between weightlessness and deep-space radiation on the cardiovascular system and to which degree duration plays a role, and whether it is relevant for later development of disease.
  • Identification and quantification of interactions of combined spaceflight factors on cardiovascular disease.
  • Identification of common pathways and mechanisms of damage and disease pathogenesis.
Risk Risk of Spaceflight Induced Cardiovascular Disease
You are here! Gap CVD-103: Determine whether the combined effects of relevant deep-space radiation and weightlessness induce additive or synergistic effects on the cardiovascular system, and whether it is of concern for development of disease.

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