Markus Wehland

The Cardiovascular System in Space: Focus on In Vivo and In Vitro Studies

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperReviewResearchpeer-review

  • Ronni Baran
  • ,
  • Shannon Marchal, KU Leuven, Belgian Nuclear Research Center
  • ,
  • Sebastian Garcia Campos, Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg
  • ,
  • Emil Rehnberg, Ghent University
  • ,
  • Kevin Tabury, University of South Carolina
  • ,
  • Bjorn Baselet, Belgian Nuclear Research Center
  • ,
  • Markus Wehland
  • Daniela Grimm
  • Sarah Baatout, KU Leuven, Ghent University

On Earth, humans are subjected to a gravitational force that has been an important determinant in human evolution and function. During spaceflight, astronauts are subjected to several hazards including a prolonged state of microgravity that induces a myriad of physiological adaptations leading to orthostatic intolerance. This review summarises all known cardiovascular diseases related to human spaceflight and focusses on the cardiovascular changes related to human spaceflight (in vivo) as well as cellular and molecular changes (in vitro). Upon entering microgravity, cephalad fluid shift occurs and increases the stroke volume (35–46%) and cardiac output (18–41%). Despite this increase, astronauts enter a state of hypovolemia (10–15% decrease in blood volume). The absence of orthostatic pressure and a decrease in arterial pressures reduces the workload of the heart and is believed to be the underlying mechanism for the development of cardiac atrophy in space. Cellular and molecular changes include altered cell shape and endothelial dysfunction through suppressed cellular proliferation as well as increased cell apoptosis and oxidative stress. Human spaceflight is associated with several cardiovascular risk factors. Through the use of microgravity platforms, multiple physiological changes can be studied and stimulate the development of appropriate tools and countermeasures for future human spaceflight missions in low Earth orbit and beyond.

Original languageEnglish
Article number59
Number of pages29
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This research was funded by Deutsches Zentrum für Luft-und Raumfahrt (DLR), BMWi projects 50WB1524 and 50WB1924 (D.G.) and by ESA/BELSPO/Prodex, IMPULSE contract CO-90-11-2801-04.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

    Research areas

  • Cardiovascular disease, Cosmic radiation, Microgravity, Simulated microgravity, Spaceflight

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