Erythrocyte deformability and aggregation responses to intermittent and continuous artificial gravity exposure

Grau Marijke*, Abeln Vera, Vogt Tobias, Bloch Wilhelm, Schneider Stefan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Artificial gravity protocols are used to improve g-tolerance of aviators and discussed as countermeasure during prolonged space flight. Little is known about the impact of artificial gravity on the red blood cells (RBC). The purpose of the study was to test how artificial gravity affects RBC deformability and aggregation, which are important determinants of microcirculation. Nine male subjects were exposed to two hypergravity protocols using a short arm human centrifuge: a continuous (CONT) protocol with constant +2 Gz for 30 min and an intermittent (INTER) protocol with repeated intervals of +2 Gz and rest. Blood was sampled pre and post interventions to measure basal blood parameters, RBC nitrite, RBC deformability, aggregation, and to determine the shear rate balancing aggregation and disaggregation (γ at dIsc min). To test for orthostasis effects, five male subjects were asked to stay for 46 min, corresponding to the length of the centrifuge protocols, with blood sampling pre and post intervention. Artificial gravity programs did not affect basal blood parameters or RBC nitrite levels; a marker for RBC deformability influencing nitric oxide. The INTER program did not affect any of the tested parameters. The CONT program did not remarkably affect RBC deformability or γ at dIsc min but significantly aggravated aggregation. Orthostasis effects were thus excluded. The results indicate that continuous artificial gravity, especially with higher g-forces applied, may negatively affect the RBC system and that for a prolonged space flight intermittent but not continuous artificial gravity might represent an appropriate countermeasure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-66
Number of pages6
JournalLife Sciences in Space Research
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Feb 1


  • Artificial gravity
  • Human
  • Red blood cell aggregation
  • Red blood cell deformability
  • Red blood cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Ecology
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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