Staying in space for extended periods can lead to brain damage in astronauts, according to a new study conducted at the University of Gothenburg. A report from the Daily Mail suggested that researchers at the university found the evidence after observing five Russian astronauts. All of these astronauts had reportedly stayed at the International Space Station (ISS) for over 150 days and were found with some deviation after comparing their blood samples before and after their stay.
Researchers found “concrete evidence” of brain cell damage
When he spoke to the Daily Mail, Henrik Zetterberg, professor of neuroscience and study author, said that they had obtained concrete evidence that astronauts who stay in space for a long time can result in brain cell damage. These results were taken from blood samples taken between four years, ie 2016 and 2020 when the cosmonauts arrived and left the ISS with an average stay of 169 days. According to the Daily Mail, scientists took blood samples from the astronauts 20 days before their arrival on the ISS and after a maximum of 21 to 25 days when they landed back on Earth.
Space flight affects the brain
After analyzing the blood samples, the researchers found five biomarkers or five signs that indicated abnormal brain function. These five biomarkers were reportedly neurofilament light (NFL), glial fibrillar acid protein (GFAP), total tau (T-tau) and two amyloid beta proteins, the Daily Mail reported. Although the effects occurred at different times, the astronauts were found to have a change in fluid in the brain that occurred during their time in space, says the study, which was published in the journal JAMA Neurology.
In addition, the results of the study showed that brain scans revealed deteriorations in areas related to movement and processing of information along with changes in areas associated with aging. In addition, the research team found that lack of gravity in space leads to the accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid at the base of the brain as the brain tries to float inside the skull. Experts say that this can even lead to a condition called Spaceflight Associated Neuro-Ocular Syndrome, which results in a changed vision.
So far, Russian cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov has a record stay of 437 days in space, followed by NASA’s Scott Kelly, who stayed in space for 340 days between 2015 and 2016.