Cerebrovascular autoregulation: lessons learned from spaceflight research

Authors: Blaber AP, Zuj KA, Goswami N. 

This review summarizes our current understanding of cerebral blood flow regulation with exposure to microgravity, outlines potential mechanisms associated with post-flight orthostatic intolerance, and proposes future directions for research and linkages with cerebrovascular disorders found in the general population. It encompasses research from cellular mechanisms (e.g. hind limb suspension: tissue, animal studies) to whole body analysis with respect to understanding human responses using space analogue studies (bed rest, parabolic flight) as well as data collected before, during, and after spaceflight. Recent evidence indicates that cerebrovascular autoregulation may be impaired in some astronauts leading to increased susceptibility to syncope upon return to a gravitational environment. The proposed review not only provides insights into the mechanisms of post-flight orthostatic intolerance, but also increases our understanding of the mechanisms associated with pathophysiological conditions (e.g. unexplained syncope) with clinical applications in relation to postural hypotension or intradialytic hypotension.

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Eur J Appl Physiol. 2012 Nov 7.