Spaceflight and protein metabolism, with special reference to humans

T. Peter Stein, Teimuraz Gaprindashvili

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Human space missions have shown that human spaceflight is associated with a loss of body protein. Specific changes include a loss of lean body mass, decreased muscle mass in the calves, decreased muscle strength, and changes in plasma proteins and amino acids. The major muscle loss is believed to be associated with the antigravity (postural) muscle. The most significant loss of protein appears to occur during the first month of flight. The etiology is believed to be multifactorial with contributions from disuse atrophy, undernutrition, and a stress type of response. This article reviews the results of American and Russian space missions to investigate this problem in humans, monkeys, and rats. The relationship of the flight results with ground-based models including bedrest for humans and hindlimb unweighting for rats is also discussed. The results suggest that humans adapt to spaceflight much better than either monkeys or rats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)806S-819S
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1994
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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