I am a second year undergraduate Honors student from Tallahassee, Florida. I am majoring in Health Management, Policy, and Information with a focus in Health Information Technology. I am currently a research assistant collaborating with Dr. Sunny Narayanan on his NASA-funded study exploring the effects of simulated spaceflight conditions, such as microgravity and radiation, on the cardiovascular system. We are currently doing biochemical analyses of the basilar, coronary, and mesenteric arteries to better understand the observed increased incidences of medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease and spaceflight associated neuro-ocular syndrome in some astronauts. I am passionate about pursuing interdisciplinary approaches to medical issues, learning about new topics in the field of space medicine and space life sciences, and understanding how technology can be used to advance healthcare practices.
Long-term Effects of Simulated Spaceflight Exposure to the Basilar Artery
Authors: Hanna Neustadter, Dr. S. Anand Narayanan
Student Major: Interdisciplinary Medical Sciences: Health Management, Policy, and Information
Mentor: Dr. S. Anand Narayanan
Mentor’s Department: Department of Nutrition and Integrative Physiology
Mentor’s College: College of Health and Human Sciences
Brain function is reliant on adequate blood perfusion supplied by the cardiovascular system. Both the cardiovascular system and the brain have been shown to adapt in extreme conditions such as spaceflight, where astronauts are subjected to environmental factors such as deep-space radiation and microgravity. When exposed to these environmental stimuli, astronauts experience increased risk of developing medical conditions such as spaceflight-associated neuro-ocular syndrome (SANS), which we speculate is from adaptations of the cerebrovascular system. To assess these adaptations and study how they may influence astronaut brain function, we conducted a study of the long-term single and combined effects of simulated deep-space radiation and microgravity exposure on rats. Our hypothesis examines the changes in blood vessel structure and function of the basilar artery, which supplies blood to the brain. Biological samples of the rat basilar artery were collected and are being processed by cryostat sectioning for immunofluorescence protein analysis for the following protein markers: eNOS, CD31, and SM22A. Indeed as more people travel into space, we have much to discover about the effects of spaceflight on the cardiovascular system, in particular as we return to the Moon through NASA’s Artemis Program. The findings from this study will increase our overall knowledge in the field of space medicine and life sciences as well as improve life on Earth through advancements made in medicine and health.
Keywords: cardiovascular, space, medicine, brain, eye