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J Musculoskelet Neuronal Interact. 2007 Jan-Mar;7(1):33-47.

Skeletal responses to space flight and the bed rest analog: a review.

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  • 1Universities Space Research Association, Division of Space Life Sciences, Houston, TX 77058, USA.


The potential for loss of bone mineral mass due to space flight was recognized by space scientists even before man's first venture into micro-gravity. Early life science studies in both the U.S. and Russian space programs attempted to measure the effects of reduced gravity on skeletal homeostasis, and these measurements have become more sophisticated with time. Bone-related measurements have typically included: bone mineral density measured by X-ray absorptiometry and more recently CT scanning; bonerelated hormones and other biochemical markers of bone turnover; and calcium excretion and balance. These measurements, conducted over the last 4 decades, have shed light on the nature of disuse bone loss and have provided preliminary information regarding bone recovery. Ground-based analog (bed rest) studies have provided information complementary to the space flight data and have allowed the testing of various countermeasures to bone loss. In spite of the wealth of knowledge obtained thus far, many questions remain regarding bone loss, bone recovery, and the factors affecting these skeletal processes. This paper will summarize the skeletal data obtained to date by the U.S. and Russian space programs and in ground-based disuse studies. In addition, related body composition data will be briefly discussed, as will possible countermeasures to space flight-induced bone loss.

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