Bone mineral and lean tissue loss after long duration space flight

J Musculoskelet Neuronal Interact. 2000 Dec;1(2):157-60.


The loss of bone and muscle is a major concern for long duration space flight. In December of 1989, we established a collaboration with Russian colleagues to determine the bone and lean tissue changes in cosmonauts before and after flights on the Mir space station lasting 4-14.4 months. Eighteen crew members received a lumbar spine and hip DEXA scan (Hologic 1000W) before and after flight; 17 crew members received an additional whole body scan. All results were expressed as percent change from baseline per month of flight in order to account for the different flight times. The pre-and post-flight data were analyzed using Hotelling's T(2) for 3 groups of variables: spine, neck of femur, trochanter; whole body BMD and subregions; lean (total, legs, arms) and fat (total only). A paired t-test was used as a follow-up to the Hotelling's T(2) to identify the individual measurements that were significantly different. These data define the rate and extent of bone and lean tissue loss during long duration space flight and indicate that the current in-flight exercise program is not sufficient to completely ameliorate bone and muscle loss during weightlessness.