Cholesterol: An Important Determinant of Muscle Atrophy in Astronauts

Author(s): Hoangvi Le, Vikrant Rai, Devendra K. Agrawal

Since cholesterol is not routinely measured in astronauts before and after their return from space, there is no data on the role of blood cholesterol level in muscle atrophy and microgravity. Since the first moon landing, aerospace medicine became outdated and has not pushed boundaries like its rocket engineering counterpart. Since the 2019 astronaut twin study, there has yet to be another scientific breakthrough for aerospace medicine. Microgravity-induced muscle atrophy is the most known consequence of spaceflight. Yet, so far, there is no therapeutic solution to prevent it or any real efforts in understanding it on a cellular or molecular level. The most obvious reason to this unprecedented level of research is due to the small cohort of astronauts. With the establishment of private space industries and exponential recruitment of astronauts, there is more reason to push forward spaceflight-related health guidelines and ensure the safety of the brave humans who risk their lives for the progression of mankind. Spaceflight is considered the most challenging job and the failure to prevent injury or harm should be considered reckless negligence by the institutions that actively prevented sophistication of aerospace medicine. In this critical review, role of cholesterol is analyzed across the NASA-established parameters of microgravity-induced muscle atrophy with a focus on potential therapeutic targets for research.

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