Analysis of blood samples from Russian cosmonauts before and after the expedition to the International Space Station showed that being in space can provoke accelerated aging of the brain. Research on the topic was published on the pages of JAMA Neurology.
Previously, scientists found that prolonged stay in space leads to a decrease in bone density and muscle atrophy, and now it turned out that astronauts risk not only bones and muscles, but also the brain. Scientists from the Russian Federation, Germany and Sweden assessed the structural damage to the brain of astronauts who returned from a long expedition, and found that the thinking organ of space explorers is aging faster than that of ordinary people.
The accelerated aging of the astronauts’ brains was indicated by the results of a blood test. Scientists have identified several biomarkers at once, signaling damage to long nerve fibers in the white matter of the brain and glial cells. Plus, people who returned from space recorded a decrease in the level of tau protein.
“The picture is characteristic of mild but long-term brain injury, as well as the rapid aging of the thinking organ. Our data indicate a high risk of accelerated neurodegeneration in astronauts,” said Peter zu Eilenburg, a professor at Ludwig-Maximilian University.