Bone marrow makes red and white blood cells. Red blood cells deliver oxygen to all cells of the body. Anemia, a condition in which there are too few red blood cells that carry oxygen to the body’s tissues, can cause fatigue along with decreased strength, cognitive ability, and heart function.
The researchers suggest that changes in red blood cell counts in space could be the result of fluid changes in the body that occur when an astronaut first arrives in space. This change caused the astronauts to lose 10% of the fluid in their blood vessels. One theory for the change is that their bodies rapidly destroy 10% of red blood cells to restore the proper balance between fluids and cells.
However, the researchers found that red blood cell destruction continued long after the initial translocation.
Lead investigator Guy Trudel at the University of Ottawa explains: “It was first thought that red blood cell destruction occurred during the first days of spaceflight and then red blood cell control became available. return to normal”. “We now know hemolysis, or destruction of red blood cells, happens as long as you’re in space.”
Red blood cell turnover is affected by spaceflight time, and space hemolysis also triggers increased red blood cell production, meaning astronauts may need extra nutrition to stay healthy. offset.
“Our bodies are very good at recycling important components of red blood cells, such as iron, but not perfect,” says Trudel. “The cost of increased destruction and production of red blood cells must be taken into account in overall nutritional strategies.”
The level of red blood cell destruction plummeted when the astronauts returned to Earth but remained above normal even a year later. That finding suggests that a high erythrocyte turnover rate may have long-term effects.
“The control of red blood cell counts varies in space,” says Trudel. “That could cause structural changes to the relevant agencies as long as a year after landing. This is a surprise and raises questions that need to be answered.”
The dynamics of red blood cell turnover could pose a potential challenge for astronauts on long-term missions to the Moon and Mars in the future – and possibly for the number of space tourists. pillar is increasing. Those making even short flights to space can benefit from pre-boarding screening for risk factors and post-flight monitoring for conditions affected by anemia. and red blood cell degradation.
“Anyone with any red blood cell problems, such as existing anemia, or a health problem that could be aggravated by anemia, such as heart disease,” says Trudel. circuit, and perhaps specific measures should be taken.
The finding also has potential applications for cardiac rehabilitation patients on Earth, he added. His work found that people on Earth who are hospitalized for several months or receive long-term care can experience anemia, weaker muscles and bones, and increased cell damage. RBCs may also play a role in these populations.
Now that researchers have identified hemolysis as the cause of space red blood cell turnover, further research is needed to determine the mechanism behind it.
“The work doesn’t provide us with a treatment or prevention, so we need to dig deeper into the mechanisms,” Trudel said. “Non-specific treatments have not worked. Astronauts are working every muscle in their bodies, and these countermeasures are not addressing hemolysis. Increased hemolysis in space is an important and immediate knowledge gap for longer missions. We need new and specific interventions for the crews embarking on those missions.”