Effect of simulatedmicrogravity on human brain graymatter and whitematter - Evidence from MRI

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Abstract

© 2015 Li et al. Background There is limited and inconclusive evidence that space environment, especially microgravity condition, may affect microstructure of human brain. This experiment hypothesized that there would be modifications in gray matter (GM) and white matter (WM) of the brain due to microgravity. Method Eighteen male volunteers were recruited and fourteen volunteers underwent -6° head-down bed rest (HDBR) for 30 days simulated microgravity. High-resolution brain anatomical imaging data and diffusion tensor imaging images were collected on a 3T MR system before and after HDBR. We applied voxel-based morphometry and tract-based spatial statistics analysis to investigate the structural changes in GM and WM of brain. Results We observed significant decreases of GM volume in the bilateral frontal lobes, temporal poles, parahippocampal gyrus, insula and right hippocampus, and increases of GM volume in the vermis, bilateral paracentral lobule, right precuneus gyrus, left precentral gyrus and left postcentral gyrus after HDBR. Fractional anisotropy (FA) changes were also observed in multiple WM tracts. Conclusion These regions showing GMchanges are closely associated with the functional domains of performance, locomotion, learning, memory and coordination. RegionalWMalterationsmay be related to brain function decline and adaption. Our findings provide the neuroanatomical evidence of brain dysfunction or plasticity in microgravity condition and a deeper insight into the cerebral mechanisms inmicrogravity condition.

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Li, K., Guo, X., Jin, Z., Ouyang, X., Zeng, Y., Feng, J., … Ma, L. (2015). Effect of simulatedmicrogravity on human brain graymatter and whitematter - Evidence from MRI. PLoS ONE, 10(8). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0135835

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