Among the tasks performed by astronauts from different countries visiting the International Space Station (ISS), there are the development of scientific missions on various topics such as the behavior of certain materials in space, food cultivation in this context, and various effects. Spending a long time in space is detrimental to human health.
At this last stage they also become an object of study. This is the case of the investigation, the results of which were recently published in the journal Scientific Reportsemployment Changes that spaceflight can cause in the human brain, particularly in the structure of the perivascular spaces (PVS) within the brain, the perivascular space.
The study, led by Kathleen E. Hopfield, of the Department of Physiology and Applied Kinesiology at the University of Florida, analyzed how the morphology of this part of the brain is affected by spaceflight and microgravity, based on data from fifteen astronauts who underwent a study. MRI, twice before launch and after return to Earth, one, three and six months after the six-month missions to the International Space Station.
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By comparing before and after images, they found an increase in the perivascular spaces inside the brains of astronauts who went to space for the first time, But there is no difference between astronauts who have previously worked on the International Space Station, according to a statement from the International Space Station. Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU)one of the institutions that were part of the study, along with NASA.
Despite the changes, in all cases, the scientists did not find any problems with balance or visual memory that might indicate neurological defects among the astronauts.
The perivascular spaces are an integral part of the normal brain cleansing system that occurs during sleep. Known as the glymphatic system, this network is known throughout the brain for metabolic proteins that may accumulate in the brain. Scientists say this system appears to function optimally during deep sleep.
The enlargement of these spaces occurs during aging and has also been linked to the development of dementia. That’s why, according to Juan Bentino, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics (neurology) at OHSU School of Medicine, this study could be valuable in helping diagnose and treat ground disorders related to cerebrospinal fluid, such as hydrocephalus.
(Also: What is the white matter that makes up half of our brain)
“These findings not only help understand the fundamental changes that occur during spaceflight, but also for people on Earth who suffer from diseases that affect the circulation of cerebrospinal fluid,” the expert says.
So far, no study has evaluated the effects of spaceflight on the perivascular spaces (PVS) within the brain, despite changes that occur in the brain due to exposure to stressors such as microgravity, ionizing radiation, and disruption of circadian sleep cycles. – It has been studied.
For example, it is known that Astronauts returning to Earth after spaceflight showed structural changes in the brain, including the displacement of the brain upwards within the skull.; Regional changes in gray matter volume; Alteration of white matter volume and microstructural integrity.
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