Loss of Muscle Associated with Poor Immunity in Astronauts
Clinical laboratory diagnostic capabilities are needed to guide health and medical care of astronauts during long-duration space missions. Clinical laboratory diagnostics, as defined for medical care on Earth, offers a model for space capabilities. Interpretation of laboratory results for health and medical care of humans in space requires knowledge of specific physiological adaptations that occur, primarily because of the absence of gravity, and how these adaptations affect reference values. Limited data from American and Russian missions have indicated shifts of intra- and extracellular fluids and electrolytes, changes in hormone concentrations related to fluid shifts and stresses of the missions, reductions in bone and muscle mass, and a blunting of the cellular immune response. These changes could increase susceptibility to space-related illness or injury during a mission and after return to Earth. We review physiological adaptations and the risk of medical problems that occur during space missions. We describe the need for laboratory diagnostics as a part of health and medical care in space, and how this capability might be delivered.
Wu AH, Taylor GR, Graham GA, McKinley BA. The clinical chemistry and immunology of long-duration space missions. Clin Chem. 1993 January Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Texas Medical School, Houston 77030.