This research is performed to determine the impact of long-duration space flight on the blood vessels of astronauts. Space flight accelerates the aging process and we must understand this to determine the need for specific countermeasures. Data will be collected before, during and after space flight to assess inflammation of the artery walls, and changes in blood vessel properties and cardiovascular fitness.Principal Investigator(s)
Canadian Space Agency (CSA)Sponsoring Organization
Information PendingResearch Benefits
Information PendingISS Expedition Duration:
October 2009 - March 2014Expeditions Assigned
21/22,23/24,25/26,27/28,29/30,31/32,33/34,35/36,37/38Previous ISS Missions
Vascular first began operations on Increment 21/22.
The Cardiovascular Health Consequences of Long-Duration Space Flight (Vascular) investigation studies the impact of space flight on the blood vessels of long-duration space explorers. Long-term habitation on board the International Space Station can expose the human body to many unique stressors that could have life-long implications concerning cardiovascular health. The chronic change in gravitational forces, the alteration in physical activity patterns, and social factors associated with confinement, could impact structural and functional properties of the vascular system and induce changes such as accelerated stiffening and the development of atherosclerosis which may parallel the aging process. Scientists hypothesize that long-duration space travel will be associated with increased blood concentrations of markers (e.g. blood proteins) indicative of vascular growth, inflammation and oxidative stress. Scientists also hypothesize that these blood markers will accompany gravity-induced alterations in structure of arterial walls (e.g. smaller arteries), especially in the crewmember?s legs. These blood markers of vascular growth, inflammation and stress will be obtained from blood samples before launch, in flight and return to Earth. The blood markers are correlated with non-invasive functional testing including ultrasounds of vascular dimensions, vascular compliance (elasticity), endothelium dependent dilation of arteries in the arm and the leg (using simple exercises and cuff occlusion) and endothelium independent dilation of arteries in the arm and the leg (by administering a nitroglycerin spray). The impact of these functional tests will also be evaluated for short-term cardiovascular health by comparing the altered vascular dilatory processes to the results from the upright posture testing phases of the current experiments (sit and stand) on return from ISS. These experiments will provide new information on cardiovascular structural and functional adaptations to long-duration space flight, changes that might impact crewmember?s lifelong health, even beyond their return from ISS or during future long-duration missions.
The expected long-term outcome of this research involves the development of appropriate countermeasures to prevent astronauts undertaking long-duration space flights from experiencing long-term cardiovascular health problems as a result of their time spent in space.Earth Applications
This experiment will contribute to obtaining a better understanding of the mechanisms that might contribute to premature ageing of the cardiovascular system and detect early markers of potential atherosclerosis (condition in which fatty material collects along the walls of arteries) and inflammation.
Vascular requires participation from astronauts during long-duration flights. Preflight operations (L-60 to L-30) involves structure and function testing, collection of 2 blood samples collected within a minimum separation of 2 days, and cardiac rate measurements via data sharing. During in flight operations, 2 blood samples are collected between NET FD 115, with a minimum separation of 2 days. Cardiac rate measurements and medication and exercise logs will be accessible via data sharing. Postflight operations (R+1) involves structure and function testing (R+1); collection of blood samples at R+1, and once again between R+2 and R+7; and cardiac rate measurements via data sharing.Operational Protocols
Two blood sample collection sessions are scheduled in flight, NET FD 115; at least two days apart. Once tubes are collected, the samples are inserted in a centrifuge and spun over a period of 30 minutes to separate the blood components. Once spinning is completed, the samples are stored in MELFI or Glacier at -20 Celsius. Samples must remain frozen (-20°C or below) through landing and delivery to PI. Blood samples are not to be scheduled during or within three days after a sleep shift period of three hours or more. The Vascular Structure and Function sessions, and the blood draws, must be separated from the end of the SOLO diet session by at least 48 hrs.
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