Inflammation and endothelial dysfunction are key components in atherogenesis. Should the status of these pro-atherogenesis factors be enhanced during prolonged confined space travel, specific countermeasures need to be instituted to prevent these processes to ensure safe outcome for astronauts during space expeditions. Six crew members were exposed to prolonged, confined isolation for 520 days. Standard exercise and diet regime were instituted throughout isolation phase. Age and gender-matched healthy, free living controls were recruited in parallel. Serial serum and whole blood were analysed for biomarkers of inflammation (hsCRP and IL-6) and endothelial activation (sICAM-1, sVCAM-1 and E-selectin). Flow-mediated dilatation (FMD) of the artery was performed following the standard protocols set by the International Brachial Artery Reactivity Task Force by trained personnel. There was decreased sVCAM-1 concentration in crew members compared to baseline. However, there was significant decrease in percentage dilatation from baseline in FMD of the brachial artery in the crew members. Percent change increment was observed in hsCRP while percent change reduction was seen in sVCAM-1. The enhanced inflammation and reduced endothelial function could possibly be attributed to the rigorous exercise instituted throughout the confinement period. Furthermore, possible haemoconcentration as a result of psychosocial stress and/ or exercise-induced physiological response could further explain elevations in hsCRP, and unlikely pathological. Furthermore, endothelial activation was attenuated during isolation, suggesting that the diet and exercise program instated throughout the period improved endothelial function.
Obesity is a growing epidemic due to an accelerated phase of industrialization and urbanization with the overfed people
now outnumbered the underfed. It is the major public health problem with a lot of research interest as it is associated
with many complicated chronic disorders such as type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and cancers. A global
estimation of 2.8 million deaths per year is due to obesity and there are tremendous on-going efforts to identify hosts
and environmental factors that infl uence the cause and pathogenesis of obesity. Concerted efforts from different research
groups had successfully shown that obese subjects have altered composition of gut microbiota and transplantation of this
microbiota infl uences body weight in the germ-free recipient mice. The advancement of technology had made possible
the study of gut microbiota which was unculturable for better understanding of their impact to human health. Rapid
deep sequencing of DNA at reasonable cost through various options of platforms followed by data analysis using robust
bioinformatic tools are an important way of analysing the gut microbiome. Here we review the role of gut microbiota
which modulates host’s metabolic functions and gene expression, facilitating the extraction and storage of energy from the
ingested dietary substances and leading to body-weight gain. We will discuss on the different techniques used, focusing
on the high-defi nition technologies for the determination of the composition, function and ecology of gut microbiota. This
allows the appropriate selection of platform which becomes the key for success of subsequent research.