WISE 2005: altered cerebrovascular autoregulation after 60 day head-down bed rest

D K Greaves, P Arbeille, R L Hughson
Journal of Gravitational Physiology: a Journal of the International Society for Gravitational Physiology 2007, 14 (1): P61-2
We tested the hypothesis that 60 days of head-down bed rest (HDBR) would affect cerebrovascular autoregulation and that this change would be correlated with changes in tolerance to the upright posture. Twenty-four healthy women (32 +/- 4 yrs) participated in a 60-d bed rest study at the MEDES Clinic in Toulouse, France. End tidal CO2 (ETCO2), continuous blood pressure (BP), middle cerebral artery (MCA) velocity and time to presyncope (endpoint) were measured during an orthostatic tolerance test conducted before/after bed rest. Given the large range of change in tolerance even within assigned countermeasure groups, we separated subjects for this analysis on the basis of the change in endpoint (Delta endpoint) pre- to post-bed rest. Autoregulation and CO2 responsiveness were evaluated on a different day from a two-breath test with intermittent hypercapnic exposure. Autoregressive moving average (ARMA) modeled the two confounding inputs, BP and CO2, on cerebrovascular blood flow. The cerebrovascular resistance index (CVRi) was expected to decrease following a decrease in BP at the MCA to assist in maintenance of cerebral blood flow. Subjects with the smallest Delta endpoint after bed rest had a 78% increase in the gain of the BP --> CVRi response. Meanwhile, the groups with greater decline in orthostatic tolerance post-HDBR had no change in the gain of this response. ETCO2 was lower overall following HDBR, decreasing from 41.8 +/- 3.4 to 40.2 +/- 3.0 in supine rest, 37.9 +/- 3.4 to 33.3 +/- 4.0 in early tilt, and 29.5 +/- 4.4 to 27.1 +/- 5.1 at pre-syncope. There was however, higher MCA velocity at any ETCO2 for post- compared to pre-HDBR. In summary, changes in autoregulation were found only in those subjects who had the smallest change from pre- to post-HDBR orthostatic tolerance. The changes may assist in buffering changes in cerebral blood flow during orthostatic hypotension post-HDBR. The reduction in ETCO2 after bed rest might be due to a change in chemoreceptor response to blood CO2, but the cerebrovascular system seems to have completely compensated.

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