Bandstra, E. R., Thompson, R. W., Nelson, G. A., Willey, J. S., Judex, S., Cairns, M. A., Benton, E. R., Vazquez, M. E., Carson, J. A. and Bateman, T. A. Musculoskeletal Changes in Mice from 20–50 cGy of Simulated Galactic Cosmic Rays. Radiat. Res. 172, 21-29 (2009).
On a mission to Mars, astronauts will be exposed to a complex mix of radiation from galactic cosmic rays. We have demonstrated a loss of bone mass from exposure to types of radiation relevant to space flight at doses of 1 and 2 Gy. The effects of space radiation on skeletal muscle, however, have not been investigated. To evaluate the effect of simulated galactic cosmic radiation on muscle fiber area and bone volume, we examined mice from a study in which brains were exposed to collimated iron-ion radiation. The collimator transmitted a complex mix of charged secondary particles to bone and muscle tissue that represented a low-fidelity simulation of the space radiation environment. Measured radiation doses of uncollimated secondary particles were 0.47 Gy at the proximal humerus, 0.24–0.31 Gy at the midbelly of the triceps brachii, and 0.18 Gy at the proximal tibia. Compared to nonirradiated controls, the proximal humerus of irradiated mice had a lower trabecular bone volume fraction, lower trabecular thickness, greater cortical porosity, and lower polar moment of inertia. The tibia showed no differences in any bone parameter. The triceps brachii of irradiated mice had fewer small-diameter fibers and more fibers containing central nuclei. These results demonstrate a negative effect on the skeletal muscle and bone systems of simulated galactic cosmic rays at a dose and LET range relevant to a Mars exploration mission. The presence of evidence of muscle remodeling highlights the need for further study.