Author(s): Johnson RB
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Abstract Bones and muscles support and move the body. Tendons link the two tissues and serve as a mechanism for transfer of forces from muscle to bone. These three tissues interact and respond to periods of activity or inactivity with appropriate alterations in structure and strength. There is substantial evidence that an environment devoid of mechanical stress on the skeleton (such as reduced gravitational forces during spaceflight, a "microgravity environment") produces direct effects on bone structure and function. There is little agreement concerning the biologic mechanisms for these atrophic changes. Changes in fluid balance and distribution coincident to spaceflight also affect muscles and bones by an unknown mechanism. Tendon-bone junctions are presumed to be spared from the effects of spaceflight. However, recent evidence from rodents suggests that spaceflight profoundly effects both the skeleton and the tendon-bone junctions. These effects include cortical bone resorption, which undermines the Sharpey's fibers that anchor the tendon to the bone matrix. The challenge to biomedical scientists is to devise methods for protecting spaceflight crews from these atrophic changes; such protection would allow for longer and more extensive spaceflights.
This article was published in Anat Rec
and referenced in Orthopedic & Muscular System: Current Research