Extended space missions are known to induce stress and immune dysregulation. Hindlimb unloading is a ground-based model used to reproduce most spaceflight conditions. The aim of this study was to better characterize the consequences of prolonged exposure to hindlimb unloading on murine splenic lymphocyte sub-populations. To ensure that the observed changes were not due to tail restraint but to the antiorthostatic position, three groups of mice were used: control (C), orthostatic restrained (R) and hindlimb unloaded (HU). After 21 days of exposure, no difference in serum corticosterone levels nor in thymus and spleen weights were observed between HU mice and their counterparts, revealing a low state of stress. Interestingly, flow cytometric analyses showed that B cells were drastically reduced in HU mouse spleens by 59% and, while the T cells number did not change, the Th/Tc ratio was decreased. Finally, the use of a fluorescent dye monitoring lymphoproliferation demonstrated that lymphocyte response to mitogen was reduced in Th and Tc populations and to a greater extent in B cells. Thus, we showed for the first time that, even if restraint has its own effects on the animals and their splenic lymphocytes, the prolonged antiorthostatic position leads, despite the absence of stress, to an inversion of the B/T ratio in the spleen. Furthermore, the lymphoproliferative response was impaired with a strong impact on B cells. Altogether, these results suggest that B cells are more affected by hindlimb unloading than T cells which may explain the high susceptibility to pathogens, such as gram-negative bacteria, described in animal models and astronauts.
We tested whether physical inactivity (PI) is an independent predictor of plasma visfatin, a newly discovered adipokine likely involved in the relationship between obesity-associated low-grade inflammation and insulin resistance. PI was induced in healthy men (Body Mass Index = 23.4 ± 0.6 kg·m(-2)) by 10 days of confinement (n = 8), 1 month of detraining (n = 10), and 3 months of bed rest with (n = 7) and without exercise (n = 8). Visfatin was negatively associated with activity energy expenditure (p = 0.03). No relationship was observed with insulin sensitivity. This suggested that PI itself increases visfatin concentrations.
Whole body vibration with resistive exercise is a promising countermeasure against some weightlessness-induced dysfunctions. Our objective was to study whether the combination of low-magnitude whole body vibration with a resistive exercise can prevent the cardiovascular deconditioning induced by a nonstrict 60-day head-down bed rest (Earth Star International Bed Rest Experiment Project). Fourteen healthy men participated in this study. We recorded electrocardiograms and blood pressure waves by means of a noninvasive beat-by-beat measurement system (Cardiospace, integrated by Centre National dEtudes Spatiales and Astronaut Center of China) during an orthostatic test (20 min of 75-degree head-up tilt test) before and immediately after bed rest. We estimated heart rate, blood pressure, cardiac output, stroke volume, total peripheral resistance, baroreflex sensitivity, and heart rate variability. Low-magnitude whole body vibration with resistive exercise prevented an increase of the sympathetic index (reflecting the sympathovagal balance of cardiac autonomic control) and limited the decrease of the spontaneous baroreflex sensitivity induced by 60 days of head-down bed rest. However, this countermeasure had very little effect on cardiac hemodynamics and did not improve the orthostatic tolerance. This combined countermeasure did not efficiently prevent orthostatic intolerance but prevents changes in the autonomic nervous system associated with cardiovascular deconditioning. The underlying mechanisms remain hypothetical but might involve cutaneous and muscular mechanoreceptors.
Long-term spaceflight induces hypokinesia and hypodynamia, which, along microgravity per se, result in a number of significant physiological alterations, such as muscle atrophy, force reduction, insulin resistance, substrate use shift from fats to carbohydrates, and bone loss. Each of these adaptations could turn to serious health deterioration during the long-term spaceflight needed for planetary exploration. We hypothesized that resveratrol (RES), a natural polyphenol, could be used as a nutritional countermeasure to prevent muscle metabolic and bone adaptations to 15 d of rat hindlimb unloading. RES treatment maintained a net protein balance, soleus muscle mass, and soleus muscle maximal force contraction. RES also fully maintained soleus mitochondrial capacity to oxidize palmitoyl-carnitine and reversed the decrease of the glutathione vs. glutathione disulfide ratio, a biomarker of oxidative stress. At the molecular level, the protein content of Sirt-1 and COXIV in soleus muscle was also preserved. RES further protected whole-body insulin sensitivity and lipid trafficking and oxidation, and this was likely associated with the maintained expression of FAT/CD36, CPT-1, and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-? coactivator-1? (PGC-1?) in muscle. Finally, chronic RES supplementation maintained the bone mineral density and strength of the femur. For the first time, we report a simple countermeasure that prevents the deleterious adaptations of the major physiological functions affected by mechanical unloading. RES could thus be envisaged as a nutritional countermeasure for spaceflight but remains to be tested in humans.
Somatic hypermutation diversifies antibody binding sites by introducing point mutations in the variable domains of rearranged immunoglobulin genes. In this study, we analyzed somatic hypermutation in variable heavy-chain (VH) domains of specific IgM antibodies of the urodele amphibian Pleurodeles waltl, immunized either on Earth or onboard the Mir space station. To detect somatic hypermutation, we aligned the variable domains of IgM heavy-chain transcripts with the corresponding VH gene. We also quantified NF-?B and activation-induced cytidine deaminase transcripts. Results were compared with those obtained using control animals immunized on Earth. Our data show that, as in most species of ectotherms, somatic hypermutation in P. waltl exhibits a mutational bias toward G and C bases. Furthermore, we show for the first time that somatic hypermutation occurs in space following immunization but at a lower frequency. This decrease is not due to a decrease in food intake or of the B-cell receptor/antigen interaction or to the absence of the germinal center-associated nuclear protein. It likely results from the combination of several spaceflight-associated changes, such as the severe reduction in T-cell activation, important perturbations of the cytoskeleton, and changes in the distribution of lymphocyte subpopulations and adhesion molecule expression.
The apprehension of the factors that affect long term regulation of energy balance is indispensable to understand the rise in obesity prevalence as well as to delineate levers to prevent it. Accurate measurements of energy balance are however challenging during free-living conditions. Recent studies proposed urinary C-peptide, a metabolic byproduct of insulin synthesis, as reliable noninvasive assessment of energy balance. These studies were in fact essentially based on correlations between urinary C-peptide and energy intake and only focused on nonhuman primates. During a bed-rest study conducted in 16 healthy women in a controlled environment, we tested the existence of a relationship between 24 h-urinary C-peptide and energy balance in humans. Daily energy intake and body mass, body composition (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA)) and total energy expenditure (doubly labeled water (DLW) method) was measured and energy balance was calculated as the difference between energy intake and expenditure. Urinary C-peptide was positively correlated with bed-rest-induced changes in fat mass (r(2) = 0.285; P = 0.03) and energy balance assessed at the end of the bed-rest (r(2) = 0.302; P = 0.027). However, in this tightly controlled environment, urinary C-peptide only accounted for 30% of variations in energy balance. No relationship was noted between urinary C-peptide and body or fat mass both at baseline and at the end of the bed-rest. These results indicate that urinary C-peptide cannot be used as an accurate biomarker of energy balance in the general human population in free-living conditions.
Immersion is a useful tool for studying fluid-volume homeostasis. Natriuretic peptides play a vital role in renal, humoral, and cardiovascular regulation under changing environmental conditions. We hypothesized that dry immersion would rapidly induce a new steady state for water and sodium metabolism, and that serum NT-proBNP levels, a proxy measure for brain natriuretic peptide (BNP), would decrease during long-term dry immersion and increase during recovery. Eight healthy young men were studied before, during, and after 7 days of dry immersion. Body weight, water balance, and plasma volume changes were evaluated. Plasma and serum samples were analyzed for active renin, NT-proBNP, aldosterone, electrolytes, osmolality, total protein, and creatinine. Urine samples were analyzed to determine levels of electrolytes, osmolality, creatinine, and free cortisol. A stand test was performed before and after dry immersion to evaluate cardiovascular deconditioning. Long-term dry immersion induced acute changes in water and sodium homeostasis on day 1, followed by a new steady state. Plasma volume decreased significantly during dry immersion. The serum levels of NT-proBNP increased significantly in recovery (10 ± 3 ng/L before dry immersion vs. 26 ± 5 ng/L on the fourth recovery day). Heart rate in the standing position was significantly greater after immersion. Results suggest that chronic dry immersion rapidly induced a new level of water-electrolyte homeostasis. The increase in NT-proBNP levels during the recovery period may be related to greater cardiac work and might reflect the degree of cardiovascular deconditioning.
Dry immersion, which is a ground-based model of prolonged conditions of microgravity, is widely used in Russia but is less well known elsewhere. Dry immersion involves immersing the subject in thermoneutral water covered with an elastic waterproof fabric. As a result, the immersed subject, who is freely suspended in the water mass, remains dry. For a relatively short duration, the model can faithfully reproduce most physiological effects of actual microgravity, including centralization of body fluids, support unloading, and hypokinesia. Unlike bed rest, dry immersion provides a unique opportunity to study the physiological effects of the lack of a supporting structure for the body (a phenomenon we call supportlessness). In this review, we attempt to provide a detailed description of dry immersion. The main sections of the paper discuss the changes induced by long-term dry immersion in the neuromuscular and sensorimotor systems, fluid-electrolyte regulation, the cardiovascular system, metabolism, blood and immunity, respiration, and thermoregulation. The long-term effects of dry immersion are compared with those of bed rest and actual space flight. The actual and potential uses of dry immersion are discussed in the context of fundamental studies and applications for medical support during space flight and terrestrial health care.
A sedentary lifestyle has adverse effects on the cardiovascular system, including impaired endothelial functions. Subjecting healthy men to 7 days of dry immersion (DI) presented a unique opportunity to analyze the specific effects of enhanced inactivity on the endothelium. We investigated endothelial properties before, during, and after 7 days of DI involving eight subjects. Microcirculatory functions were assessed with laser Doppler in the skin of the calf. We studied basal blood flow and endothelium-dependent and -independent vasodilation. We also measured plasma levels of microparticles, a sign of cellular dysfunction, and soluble endothelial factors, reflecting the endothelial state. Basal flow and endothelium-dependent vasodilation were reduced by DI (22 + or - 4 vs. 15 + or - 2 arbitrary units and 29 + or - 6% vs. 12 + or - 6%, respectively, P < 0.05), and this was accompanied by an increase in circulating endothelial microparticles (EMPs), which was significant on day 3 (42 + or - 8 vs. 65 + or - 10 EMPs/microl, P < 0.05), whereas microparticles from other cell origins remained unchanged. Plasma soluble VEGF decreased significantly during DI, whereas VEGF receptor 1 and soluble CD62E were unchanged, indicating that the increase in EMPs was associated with a change in antiapoptotic tone rather than endothelial activation. Our study showed that extreme physical inactivity in humans induced by 7 days of DI causes microvascular impairment with a disturbance of endothelial functions, associated with a selective increase in EMPs. Microcirculatory endothelial dysfunction might contribute to cardiovascular deconditioning as well as to hypodynamia-associated pathologies. In conclusion, the endothelium should be the focus of special care in situations of acute limitation of physical activity.
The factors regulating the bodys ability to switch from fat to carbohydrate oxidation in response to fuel availability changes, or metabolic flexibility (MF), are currently intensively investigated in the context of metabolic diseases. Although numerous metabolic diseases are associated with sedentary behaviors and metabolic inflexibility, the effect of habitual physical activity level (PAL) on MF regulation is surprisingly poorly known. We investigated how PAL affects MF in cross-sectional and interventional studies. MF was assessed in 44 subjects: normal-weight and overweight sedentary men submitted to 2 mo of exercise at current recommendations, normal-weight active men submitted to 1 mo of reduced PAL and normal-weight women submitted to 1 mo of bed rest, with or without exercise. MF was evaluated, before and after interventions, following two standard meals as the relationship between individual mathematical variances in insulin and nonprotein respiratory quotient (NPRQ) daily kinetics. Daily NPRQ and insulin variances differed according to habitual PAL (P = 0.002 and P = 0.009, respectively); active subjects had higher variances in NPRQ for lower variances in insulin than sedentary subjects, indicating a better MF. Detraining increased insulin variance (P = 0.009) and decreased NPRQ variance (P = 0.003), while training tended to have opposite effects. Insulin and NPRQ variances were negatively related along the PAL continuum (R(2) = 0.70, P < 0.001). Variance in NPRQ was also positively related to PAL (R(2) = 0.52, P < 0.001). By assessing MF with mathematical surrogates in conditions of daily pattern in meals intake, we showed that habitual PAL is associated with MF status, and that MF is modulated by changes in PAL.
Our previous research demonstrated that spaceflight conditions affect antibody production in response to an antigenic stimulation in adult amphibians. Here, we investigated whether antibody synthesis is affected when animal development occurs onboard a space station. To answer this question, embryos of the Iberian ribbed newt, Pleurodeles waltl, were sent to the International Space Station (ISS) before the initiation of immunoglobulin heavy-chain expression. Thus, antibody synthesis began in space. On landing, we determined the effects of spaceflight on P. waltl development and IgM heavy-chain transcription. Results were compared with those obtained using embryos that developed on Earth. We find that IgM heavy-chain transcription is doubled at landing and that spaceflight does not affect P. waltl development and does not induce inflammation. We also recreated the environmental modifications encountered by the embryos during their development onboard the ISS. This strategy allowed us to demonstrate that gravity change is the factor responsible for antibody heavy-chain transcription modifications that are associated with NF-?B mRNA level variations. Taken together, and given that the larvae were not immunized, these data suggest a modification of lymphopoiesis when gravity changes occur during ontogeny.
The most accepted animal model for simulation of the physiological and morphological consequences of microgravity on the cardiovascular system is one of head-down hindlimb unloading. Experimental conditions surrounding this model include not only head-down tilting of rats, but also social and restraint stresses that have their own influences on cardiovascular system function. Here, we studied levels of spontaneous locomotor activity, blood pressure, and heart rate during 14 days under the following experimental conditions: cage control, social isolation in standard rat housing, social isolation in special cages for hindlimb unloading, horizontal attachment (restraint), and head-down hindlimb unloading. General activity and hemodynamic parameters were continuously monitored in conscious rats by telemetry. Heart rate and blood pressure were both evaluated during treadmill running to reveal cardiovascular deconditioning development as a result of unloading. The main findings of our work are that: social isolation and restraint induced persistent physical inactivity, while unloading in rats resulted in initial inactivity followed by normalization and increased locomotion after one week. Moreover, 14 days of hindlimb unloading showed significant elevation of blood pressure and slight elevation of heart rate. Hemodynamic changes in isolated and restrained rats largely reproduced the trends observed during unloading. Finally, we detected no augmentation of tachycardia during moderate exercise in rats after 14 days of unloading. Thus, we concluded that both social isolation and restraint, as an integral part of the model conditions, contribute essentially to cardiovascular reactions during head-down hindlimb unloading, compared to the little changes in the hydrostatic gradient.
We quantified the impact of 60-day head-down bed rest (HDBR) with countermeasures on arterial and venous response to tilt.
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