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Curr Osteoporos Rep. 2013 Jun;11(2):92-8. doi: 10.1007/s11914-013-0136-5.

Spaceflight-induced bone loss: is there an osteoporosis risk?

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NASA Johnson Space Center, 2101 NASA Parkway, Houston, TX 77058, USA.


Currently, the measurement of areal bone mineral density (aBMD) is used at NASA to evaluate the effects of spaceflight on the skeletal health of astronauts. Notably, there are precipitous declines in aBMD with losses >10 % detected in the hip and spine in some astronauts following a typical 6-month mission in space. How those percentage changes in aBMD relate to fracture risk in the younger-aged astronaut is unknown. Given the unique set of risk factors that could be contributing to this bone loss (eg, adaptation to weightlessness, suboptimal diet, reduced physical activity, perturbed mineral metabolism), one might not expect skeletal changes due to spaceflight to be similar to skeletal changes due to aging. Consequently, dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) measurement of aBMD may be too limiting to understand fracture probability in the astronaut during a long-duration mission and the risk for premature osteoporosis after return to Earth. Following a brief review of the current knowledge-base, this paper will discuss some innovative research projects being pursued at NASA to help understand skeletal health in astronauts.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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