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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015, Article ID 342565, 7 pages
Research Article

Large Artery Remodeling and Dynamics following Simulated Microgravity by Prolonged Head-Down Tilt Bed Rest in Humans

1Department of Surgical, Medical, Molecular and Critical Area Pathology, University of Pisa, 56124 Pisa, Italy
2Department of Medical Biotechnologies and Translational Medicine, University of Milan, 20129 Milan, Italy
3Department of Information Engineering, University of Florence, 50139 Florence, Italy
4Department of Medicine, Surgery and Health Sciences, University of Trieste, 34127 Trieste, Italy

Received 16 May 2014; Revised 26 October 2014; Accepted 27 October 2014

Academic Editor: Mariano Bizzarri

Copyright © 2015 Carlo Palombo et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The effects of simulated microgravity on the static and dynamic properties of large arteries are still mostly unknown. The present study evaluated, using an integrated vascular approach, changes in structure and function of the common carotid and femoral arteries (CCA and CFA) after prolonged head-down tilt bed rest (HDTBR). Ten healthy men were enrolled in a 5-week HDTBR study endorsed by the Italian Space Agency (ASI). Arterial geometry, flow, stiffness, and shear rate were evaluated by ultrasound. Local carotid pulse pressure and wave reflection were studied by applanation tonometry. After five weeks of HDTBR, CFA showed a decrease in lumen diameter without significant changes in wall thickness (IMT), resulting in an inward remodeling. Local carotid pulse pressure decreased and carotid-to-brachial pressure amplification increased. The ratio of systolic-to-diastolic volumetric flow in CFA decreased, whereas in CCA it tended to increase. Indices of arterial stiffness and shear rate did not change during HDTBR, either in CCA or CFA. In summary, prolonged HDTBR has a different impact on CCA and CFA structure and flow, probably depending on the characteristics of the vascular bed perfused.