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Performances in extreme environments: effects of hyper/hypobarism and hypogravity on skeletal muscle

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Author(s): Gerardo Bosco | Vittore Verratti | Giorgio Fanò

Journal: European Journal of Translational Myology
ISSN 2037-7452

Volume: 20;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 83;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Keywords: Skeletal muscle | adaptations | hyperbaric | hypobaric environment | microgravity

ABSTRACT
Many environmental factors may affect muscle plasticity but some have exclusive characteristics that allow them to play a key role to maintain the muscle capacity to generate force; these factors are: i) the oxygen availability and ii) the load applied to muscle fibres. Hyperbarism is a condition that occurs when a man is subjected to pressure increases. To keep the lungs from collapsing, the air is supplied to him under high pressure which exposes the blood in the lungs to high alveolar gas pressures. Under this condition, the PO2 become sufficiently increased, serious disorders may occur, such as modification of oxygen delivery and/or oxygen availability to permit regular muscle contraction. Also altitude hypobaric hypoxia induces modification of muscle capacity to generate work. Prolonged exposure to high altitude leads significant loss in body mass, thigh muscle mass, muscle fiber area and volume density of muscle mitochondria. Spaceflight results in a number of adaptations to skeletal muscle, including atrophy and early muscle fatigue. Muscle atrophy is observed in a wide range of muscles, with the most extensive loss occurring in the legs, because astronauts are no longer needed to support the body's weight. This review will describe the background on these topics suggesting the strategies to correct the specific muscle changes in presence of environmental stresses, such as the alteration in oxygen-derived signaling pathways or the metabolic consequence of microgravity that may indicate rational interventions to maintain muscle mass and function.
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