Recovery of spaceflight-induced bone loss: bone mineral density after long-duration missions as fitted with an exponential function.

Division of Space Life Sciences, Universities Space Research Association, Houston, TX, USA.
Bone (Impact Factor: 4.46). 01/2008; 41(6):973-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.bone.2007.08.022
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The loss of bone mineral in NASA astronauts during spaceflight has been investigated throughout the more than 40 years of space travel. Consequently, it is a medical requirement at NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) that changes in bone mass be monitored in crew members by measuring bone mineral density (BMD), with dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) before and after flight, of astronauts who serve on long-duration missions (4-6 months). We evaluated this repository of medical data to track whether there is recovery of bone mineral that was lost during spaceflight. Our analysis was supplemented by BMD data from cosmonauts (by convention, a space traveler formally employed by the Russia Aviation and Space Agency or by the previous Soviet Union) who had also flown on long-duration missions. Data from a total of 45 individual crew members - a small number of whom flew on more than one mission - were used in this analysis. Changes in BMD (between 56 different sets of pre- and postflight measurements) were plotted as a function of time (days after landing). Plotted BMD changes were fitted to an exponential mathematical function that estimated: (i) BMD change on landing day (day 0) and (ii) the number of days after landing when 50% of the lost bone would be recovered ("50% recovery time") in the lumbar spine, trochanter, pelvis, femoral neck and calcaneus. In sum, averaged losses of bone mineral after long-duration spaceflight ranged between 2% and 9% across all sites with our recovery model predicting a 50% restoration of bone loss for all sites to be within 9 months.

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