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Assessment of the Effect of Space Flight on Bone Quality Using Three-Dimensional High Resolution Peripheral Quantitative Computed Tomography (HR-pQCT) (TBone)
Principal Investigator
Research Area:
Skeletal physiology
Species Studied
Scientific Name: Homo sapiens Species: Human

The purpose of this study is to understand bone loss and sustained bone loss after prolonged spaceflight using state-of-the-art 3D imaging methods (high resolution peripheral computed tomography, HR-pQCT) in combination with novel image analysis techniques. Bone health has been the subject of many space flight studies in the past but new 3D methods enable the adaptation of bone to spaceflight to be monitored at a much smaller scale than previously. HR-pQCT allows the clinical measurement of human 3D bone architecture at sufficient resolution to assess morphological parameters at a trabecular level. Past studies have demonstrated its precision, good correlations with various gold standard methodologies to quantify bone architecture, its modest but significant correlation of bone architecture and mechanical strength with other sites in the body and, when combined with finite element analysis (FEA), its strong ability to predict bone strength. The use of 3D image registration, developed at the University of Calgary, has been shown to improve the sensitivity of longitudinal studies for detecting bone loss and allows the tracking of individual trabeculae over time. Specific objectives include:

(1) To investigate bone loss patterns in subjects exposed to microgravity. This shall be accomplished by using new non-invasive longitudinal three-dimensional measures of high-resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography (HR-pQCT) of bone structure in addition to standard analysis techniques of DXA and analysis of biomarkers for bone formation and resorption.

(2) To determine parameters that may identify individuals with heightened sensitivity to sustained bone loss / loss of bone strength using the micro-structural parameter outcomes such as bone volume ratio and trabecular thickness, and magnitude and rate of bone loss.

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Bone resorption
Bone remodeling
Quantitative computated tomography (QCT)
Absorptiometry, photon
Bone density

Data Information
Data Availability
Archiving in progress. Data is not yet available for this experiment.

Bone specific alkaline phosphatase - BSAP
C telopeptide in urine - CTX
DXA scans
HR-pQCT scans
Ionized calcium
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Mission/Study Information
Mission Launch/Start Date Landing/End Date Duration
Expedition 46 12/11/2015 03/02/2016 82 days
Expedition 47 03/02/2016 06/18/2016 108 days
Expedition 48 06/18/2016 09/06/2016 80 days
Expedition 49 09/06/2016 10/30/2016 54 days
Expedition 50 10/28/2016 04/09/2017 164 days
Expedition 51 04/09/2017 06/02/2017 55 days
Expedition 52 06/02/2017 09/02/2017 92 days
Expedition 53 09/02/2017 12/14/2017 102 days
Expedition 54 12/14/2017 02/27/2018 75 days
Expedition 55 02/27/2018 06/03/2018 96 days
Expedition 56 06/03/2018 10/04/2018 123 days
Expedition 57 10/04/2018 12/20/2018 77 days
Expedition 58 12/18/2018 03/14/2019 85 days
Expedition 59 03/14/2019 06/24/2019 102 days

Additional Information
Managing NASA Center
Johnson Space Center (JSC)
Responsible NASA Representative
Johnson Space Center LSDA Office
Project Manager: Jessica Keune
Institutional Support
Canadian Space Agency (CSA)
Proposal Date
Proposal Source