Agilent and the Russian Cosmonauts

How does spaceflight affect human physiology?  Reported effects have included energy imbalance, weakened bone structure, muscle deterioration, immune system dysfunction and anemia.  But what is happening at a molecular level to drive these changes?

Russian and Canadian scientists studied blood samples from 18 Russian cosmonauts before and after they completed long-term missions to the International Space Station.  The researchers used Agilent technologies to analyze 125 proteins in blood plasma.

They found three different reactions among proteins used for diagnosing non-communicable diseases:

  • Proteins whose concentrations remained unchanged by spaceflight
  • Proteins whose concentrations changed, then recovered rapidly after return to Earth
  • Proteins whose concentrations changed, then recovered very slowly after return to Earth

“The results showed that in weightlessness, the immune system acts like it does when the body is infected,” says study author Evgeny Nicolaev.  “The human body doesn’t know what to do and tries to turn on all possible defense systems.” (MIPT)

“Weightlessness for human is completely new in evolutionary terms,” the study concludes.  “The adaptation mechanisms of the human organism to these conditions is not predictable.” (Nature)

Spaceflight research is critical as agencies plan more and longer manned spaceflights, including the tantalizing possibility of civilian space travel.

Equipment used in the study included an Agilent Infinity UHPLC system, triple quadrupole mass spectrometer, JetStream source, Zorbax UHPLC column and MassHunter software.

Today’s blog post topic was suggested by Agilent employee Rudi Grimm.


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