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  1. G. Kim Prisk

Published Online: 1 JAN 2011

DOI: 10.1002/cphy.c100014

Comprehensive Physiology

Comprehensive Physiology

How to Cite

Prisk, G. K. 2011. Microgravity. Comprehensive Physiology. 1:485–497.

Author Information

  1. Departments of Medicine and Radiology, University of California, San Diego

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 JAN 2011


Gravity profoundly affects the overall mechanics of the respiratory system. Functional residual capacity, when measured in sustained microgravity, is intermediate to that present in the standing and supine postures in 1G, consistent with early modeling studies. This change occurs almost exclusively through changes in the abdominal compliance and thus in the volume of the abdominal compartment, with the rib cage being relatively unaffected by gravity. Microgravity leaves vital capacity unaltered once the initial translocation of blood into the thorax is corrected by homeostatic mechanisms, but residual volume is reduced, likely through a more uniform distribution of alveolar size permitting deflation to a lower overall lung volume. Expiratory flows are unaffected by microgravity provided they are measured following normalization of the intrathoracic blood volume. During sleep in microgravity, there is an almost complete abolition of obstructive sleep apnea events. © 2011 American Physiological Society. Compr Physiol 1:485-497, 2011.