Peripheral effector mechanism hypothesis of postflight cardiovascular dysfunction

Li Fan Zhang*, Zhi Bin Yu, Jin Ma, Qin Wen Mao

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Studies on the mechanisms of cardiovascular dysfunction after spaceflight are important to illustrate the cardiovascular effect of microgravity and develop appropriate multi-system countermeasures for future long-duration spaceflights. Over the past 10 yr, we have systematically studied the adaptational changes in structure and function of both the heart and vessels, using the tail-suspension rat model to simulate microgravity effects. Our results indicate that simulated microgravity induced atrophic changes and reduced contractility of the heart muscle, and upward- and downward-regulation in structure, function, and innervation state of vessels in the brain and hind body of the rat. In addition, more recent advances in relevant ground-based and spaceflight studies from different laboratories have also been reviewed. Based on these studies, it has been speculated that, in addition to hypovolemia, the microgravity-induced adaptational changes in the structure and function of the two main effectors of the cardiovascular system, i.e., the arterial smooth muscle and the cardiac muscle, might be among the most important mechanisms responsible for postflight cardiovascular dysfunction and orthostatic intolerance. In this paper we will review the available evidence with comments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)567-575
Number of pages9
JournalAviation Space and Environmental Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 7 2001


  • Arterial smooth muscle
  • Cardiac muscle
  • Cardiovascular deconditioning
  • Microgravity
  • Perivascular nerves
  • Postflight orthostatic intolerance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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