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Bioavailability and Performance Effects of Promethazine (PMZ) During Space Flight (DSO 490)

Promethazine (PMZ) is the anti-motion sickness medication of choice for treating space motion sickness (SMS) during Space Shuttle missions. The side effects associated with PMZ when used on Earth include dizziness, drowsiness, sedation, and impaired psychomotor performance, all of which could impact spaceflight crew performance or mission operations. Early anecdotal reports from crewmembers indicate that these central nervous system side effects of PMZ are absent or greatly attenuated in microgravity. However, recent reviews of medical debriefs indicate that, at least in some crewmembers, the central nervous system depressant effects are moderate to large. The pharmacokinetics and bioavailability of medications administered in microgravity may be different than on Earth. This could significantly alter drug efficacy, as well as the severity of side effects for a given dosage. Therefore, a systematic evaluation of PMZ bioavailability including the effects on performance, side effects, and efficacy in the treatment of SMS is essential for determining optimal dosage and route of administration of PMZ in flight. Researchers believed this study would lead to a better understanding of how PMZ is handled by the body in space and that it would help to identify necessary changes for optimizing space motion sickness therapeutics in space.

The specific objectives of this experiment were:

Ground-based Testing

  • Evaluate the effects of promethazine (PMZ) on Shuttle landing performance using the portable in-flight landing operations trainer (PILOT), and
  • Collect saliva and urine samples to determine the pharmacokinetics of PMZ

    Space-flight Testing

  • Establish a dose-response relationship of PMZ before and during flight,
  • Estimate bioavailability of PMZ from the intramuscular, oral, and suppository routes of administration before and during flight, and
  • Compare and contrast the effect of flight-related variables (e.g. SMS, mission duration, sleep medications, and crew activity schedules) and PMZ administration on sleep quality and efficiency.

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  • Keywords
    Space motion sickness (SMS)

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    Data Information
    Data Availability
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    Blood pressure
    Promethazine availability, intramuscular
    Promethazine availability, oral
    Promethazine availability, suppository
    Pulse rate
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    Mission/Study Information
    Mission Launch/Start Date Landing/End Date Duration
    Expedition 13 03/22/2006 09/24/2006 186 days
    Expedition 15 04/07/2007 10/21/2007 197 days
    Expedition 16 10/10/2007 04/19/2008 192 days
    Ground 05/01/2009 In Progress
    STS-108 12/05/2001 12/17/2001 12 days
    STS-109 03/01/2002 03/12/2002 11 days
    STS-112 10/07/2002 10/18/2002 11 days
    STS-113 11/23/2002 12/07/2002 14 days
    STS-114 07/26/2005 08/09/2005 14 days
    STS-118 08/08/2007 08/21/2007 13 days
    STS-120 10/23/2007 11/07/2007 15 days
    STS-121 07/04/2006 07/17/2006 13 days
    STS-122 02/07/2008 02/20/2008 13 days

    Human Research Program (HRP) Human Research Roadmap (HRR) Information
    Crew health and performance is critical to successful human exploration beyond low Earth orbit. The Human Research Program (HRP) investigates and mitigates the highest risks to human health and performance, providing essential countermeasures and technologies for human space exploration. Risks include physiological and performance effects from hazards such as radiation, altered gravity, and hostile environments, as well as unique challenges in medical support, human factors, and behavioral health support. The HRP utilizes an Integrated Research Plan (IRP) to identify the approach and research activities planned to address these risks, which are assigned to specific Elements within the program. The Human Research Roadmap is the web-based tool for communicating the IRP content.

    The Human Research Roadmap is located at:

    + Click here for information of how this experiment is contributing to the HRP's path for risk reduction.

    Additional Information
    Managing NASA Center
    Johnson Space Center (JSC)
    Responsible NASA Representative
    Johnson Space Center LSDA Office
    Project Manager: Jessica Keune
    Institutional Support
    National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
    Alternate Experiment Name
    DSO 490B
    Proposal Date
    Proposal Source