Long stays in space cause damage to the brain

Humanity has big plans for the colonization of space. Among other things, SpaceX wants to found a colony on Mars. The establishment of permanent bases on the moon is also being planned by various agencies. However, it is still unclear how the human body reacts to the special conditions of space. This applies in particular if the stays are no longer to be limited in time in the future, but rather permanently. Scientists have therefore carried out a study in which they examined astronauts before and after their deployment on the international space station ISS. On average, the astronauts studied stayed in space for 169 days. With the help of a newly developed blood test, the tissue structure in the brain was examined. On the other hand, we looked at how various biomarkers have developed. The rather unpleasant result: All of the astronauts examined were found to have brain damage immediately after their return.

Image: Public domain

The aging process seems to be accelerating in space

The researchers found that there were defective changes in all relevant types of tissue. These were classified as rather mild. At the same time, however, the researchers assume that they will persist over the long term. It has not yet been fully clarified whether the damage increases with longer or repeated stays in space or whether it remains with the comparatively low loads. In addition, the researchers were able to determine that several proteins associated with the aging process were significantly increased. This could indicate that staying in space accelerates the aging process. Here, too, it would be conceivable that this effect would even increase with permanent settlement. Ultimately, this could mean that life expectancy in a colony on Mars would be lower than on Earth, even if medical care were guaranteed in both locations.

Further studies should clarify the cause

As part of their study, the researchers first looked at what changes the stay in space causes in the brain. Now it has to be investigated why the observed effects occur. It is most likely that weightlessness plays a role here. This could ensure that the venous blood no longer flows out of the head properly. This in turn would lead to an increase in pressure in the nerve water. So far, however, this has only been a theoretically conceivable explanation. This now has to be verified in further studies. Ideally, preventive measures could then also be derived from the results, which could help to prevent or at least reduce the damage observed. This in turn would be an important prerequisite for successful human settlement in space.

Via: Jama Neurology

Share the article or support us with a donation.

PayPal donationAmazon donation shopping

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *