It has long been known that astronauts who spent a few months under the influence of gravity have a distorted picture. This is partly due to changes in blood pressure in the head and changes in the shape of the eyeball. However, the roots of the problem may lie deeper – microgravity replaces the expression of proteins that are associated with rega in the body.
Now published results from a study that tested the effect of microgravity on the sight of the mouse.
Twelve mice spent 35 days in special cages that were installed in the international space station ISS. Six lived in microgravity, six in a centrifuge, which artificially supported the gravity of the earth.
When the mice returned to Earth, changes in the expression of their genes and proteins, the structure of the eye and the blood circulation systems were investigated.
The eyes of mice living in microgravity, especially those who served their blood vessels, seemed to have suffered much more damage than those who lived in artificial gravity. Also the expression of proteins has also changed, so the repair and decay processes of cells are reduced. In all cases, cosmic mice were worse off than the control groups that remained on earth, but living in artificial gravity had significantly lower shocks than microgravity.
It therefore seems that the preparation of longer cosmic missions, such as the flight to Mars, also requires artificial gravity for astronauts: a rotating part of a spacecraft or something analogous to that often shown by fantastic films about long-range cosmic to travel.
The results of the study are published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.