Although we have sent humans into space for more than 50 years crucial questions regarding kidney physiology, volume regulation and osmoregulation remain unanswered. The complex interactions between the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, the sympathetic nervous system, osmoregulatory responses, glomerular function, tubular function, and environmental factors such as sodium and water intake, motion sickness and ambient temperature make it difficult to establish the exact effect of microgravity and the subsequent fluid shifts and muscle mass loss on these parameters. Unfortunately, not all responses to actual microgravity can be reproduced with head-down tilt bed rest studies, which complicates research on Earth. Better understanding of the effects of microgravity on kidney function, volume regulation and osmoregulation are needed with the advent of long-term deep space missions and planetary surface explorations during which orthostatic intolerance complaints or kidney stone formation can be lifethreatening for astronauts. Galactic cosmic radiation may be a new threat to kidney function. In this review, we summarise and highlight the current understandings of the effects of microgravity on kidney function, volume regulation and osmoregulation and discuss knowledge gaps that future studies should address.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Space and Planetary Science
- Materials Science (miscellaneous)
- Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)