Moon Dust may Simulate Vascular Hazards of Urban Pollution

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W.J. Rowe (2007), JBIS, 60, 133-136

Refcode: 2007.60.133
Keywords: Endothelial dysfunction, magnesium, hypertension, ischemia, oxidative stress, Lunar Missions, Apollo 15

A long duration mission to the moon presents several potential cardiovascular complications. To the risks of microgravity and hypokinesia, and the fact that pharmaceuticals cannot be always depended upon in the space fight conditions, there is a possible additional risk due to inhalation in the lunar module of ultra-fine dust (<100 nm). This may trigger endothelial dysfunction by mechanisms similar to those shown to precipitate endothelial insults complicating ultra-fine urban dust exposure. Vascular constriction and a significant increase in diastolic blood pressures have been found in subjects inhaling urban dust within just two hours, possibly triggered by oxidative stress, inflammatory effects, and calcium overload with a potential magnesium ion deficit playing an important contributing role. Both Irwin and Scott on Apollo 15, experienced arrhythmias, and in Irwin's case associated with syncope and severe dyspnea with angina during reentry. After the mission both had impairment in cardiac function, and delay in cardiovascular recovery, with Irwin in addition having stress test- induced extremely high blood pressures, with no available stress test results in Scott's case for comparison. It is conceivable that the chemical nature or particle size of the lunar dust is sufficiently variable to account for these complications, which were not described on the other Apollo missions. This could be determined by non-invasive endothelial-dependent flow-mediated dilatation studies in the lunar environment at various sites, thereby determining the site with the least endothelial vulnerability to dysfunction. These studies could be used also to demonstrate possible intensification of endothelial dysfunction from inhalation of ultra-fine moon dust in the lunar module.

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