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Russian, Canadian scientists show space flights affect the human body just like diseases

Russian and Canadian researchers have uncovered how space travel conditions impact the protein composition of human blood. The study’s results were published recently in the journal Scientific Reports from the Nature publishing group, which indicated that during cosmic flights a human body responds to the zero-gravity state just like it does to a disease.
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«The study indicated that under zero-gravity conditions, the immune system acts similarly to when it is fighting a disease since the body does not understand what to do and switches on all sorts of protection systems,» the study’s leading author and Professor at Skoltech and Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology Yevgeny Nikolaev said.

The impact of space travel on the human body has been intensively studied since the mid-20th century. Cosmic flights influence a human’s metabolism, thermoregulation, cardiac rhythms, muscle function, respiratory system, and other human functions. Proteins are substances which play a major role in our bodies' processes of adapting to any condition. That is why the scientists have focused on proteins as the main scope of their research.

In order to carefully study the effect of zero-gravity conditions on human physiology, the researchers analyzed concentrations of 125 proteins in the blood plasma of 18 astronauts from Russia, who had resided at the International Space station for a quite long time. The cosmonauts underwent medical tests three times: 30 days prior to the flight, right after coming back to the Earth, and 7 days after the return.

The investigated proteins were biomarker substances which are usually used to detect noninfectious human diseases. The analysis showed that changes in the concentration of those proteins which actively take part in the regulation of natural immunity, which implies that on a molecular level, the human body reacts to cosmic flights in the same way it reacts to a disease.

Additionally, the researchers' results show that during the space flight, all key types of cells, organs, and tissues in the human body undergo the process of adaptation to the new surroundings.

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