Effects of Space Flight and −6° Bed Rest on the Neuroendocrine Response to Metabolic Stress in Physically Fit Subjects


Address for correspondence: Lucia Ksinantova, M.D., Ph.D., Institute of Experimental Endocrinology, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Vlarska 3, 833 06 Bratislava, Slovak Republic. Voice: 421-25477-3800; fax: 421-25477-4247. e-mail: Lucia.Ksinantova@savba.sk


Abstract: The aim of this study was to evaluate the association of plasma epinephrine (EPI) and norepinephrine (NE) responses to insulin-induced hypoglycemia (ITT) 3 weeks before the space flight (SF), on the fifth day of SF, on days 2 and 16 after landing in the first Slovak astronaut, and before and on the fifth day of prolonged bed rest (BR) in 15 military aircraft pilots, aged 33.5 ± 1.4 years, body mass index (BMI) 26.5 ± 0.7 kg/m2, maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) 55.2 ± 2.4 mL/kg/min, who volunteered for the study. ITT was induced by i.v. administrations of 0.1 IU/kg body weight insulin (Actrapid HM) in a bolus. Insulin administration led to a comparable hypoglycemia in preflight, actual flight conditions, and before and after bed rest. ITT led to a pronounced increase in EPI levels and moderate increase in NE in preflight studies. However, an evidently reduced plasma elevation of EPI was found after insulin administration during SF and during BR. Thus, during the real microgravity in SF and simulated microgravity in BR, ITT activates the adrenomedullary system to less extent that at conditions of the Earth's gravitation. Post-flight changes in EPI and NE did not differ from those of preflight values, since SF was relatively short (8 days) and the readaptation to Earth's gravitation was fast. It seems that an increased blood flow in brain might be responsible for the reduced EPI response to insulin. Responses to ITT in physically fit subjects indicate the stimulus specificity of the deconditioning effect of 5 days of bed rest on the stress response.