July 18: A new Study conducted by Harvard researchers and published in the journal ‘Frontiers in Physiology’, shows that Resveratrol found in red wine substantially preserves muscle mass and strength in rats exposed to the wasting effects of simulated Mars gravity and may help astronauts preserve their muscle mass during trips in space or future Mars missions, according to a Report by PTI
Astronauts who wish to undertake the nine-month journey from the Earth to the Mars in the future would be better off sipping red wine during the trip. Unchallenged by gravity, muscles and bones weaken in outer space Weight-bearing muscles are hit first and worst, like the soleus muscle in the calf. This made scientists want to find out how to make sure the astronauts can stay strong after the trip.
The NASA-funded study showed that the red wine component Resveratrol substantially preserves muscle mass and strength in rats exposed to the wasting effects of simulated Mars gravity. “After just three weeks in space, the human soleus muscle shrinks by a third,” said Marie Mortreux, the lead author who adds, “This is accompanied by a loss of slow-twitch muscle fibres, which are needed for endurance.”
To allow astronauts to operate safely on long missions to Mars, whose gravitational pull is just 40 per cent of that of the earth, mitigating strategies will be needed to prevent muscle de-conditioning. “Dietary strategies could be the key, especially since astronauts travelling to Mars won’t have access to the type of exercise machines deployed on the ISS,” said Mortreux.
To simulate a parallel situation in space, the researchers used an approach in which rats were fitted with a full-body harness and suspended by a chain from their cage ceiling. Thus, 24 male rats were exposed to normal loading representing Earth or 40 per cent loading for Mars for 14 days. In each group, half of them received Resveratrol (150 mg/kg daily) in water; the others got just the water. Otherwise, they were fed freely from the same food.
Calf circumference and front and rear paw grip force were measured weekly, and after 14 days the calf muscles were analysed. As expected, the ‘Mars’ condition weakened the rats’ grip and shrank their calf circumference, muscle weight and slow-twitch fibre content. But surprisingly, Resveratrol supplements rescued the front and rear paw grip in the Mars rats, to the level of the non-supplemented Earth rats.
"A likely factor here is insulin sensitivity. Resveratrol treatment promotes muscle growth in diabetic or unloaded animals, by increasing insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake in the muscle fibres. This is relevant for astronauts, who are known to develop reduced insulin sensitivity during spaceflight," Mortreux said "Dietary strategies could be key, especially since astronauts travelling to Mars won''t have access to the type of exercise machines deployed on the ISS," Mortreux said.
Mortreux suggested that further studies are needed to explore the mechanisms involved, as well as the effects of different doses of Resveratrol (up to 700 mg/kg/day) in both males and females.
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