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Short-radius centrifugation combined with exercise has been suggested as a potential countermeasure against spaceflight deconditioning. Both the long-term and acute physiological responses to such a combination are incompletely understood. We developed and validated a computational model to study the acute cardiovascular response to centrifugation combined with lower body ergometer exercise. The model consisted of 21 compartments, including the upper body, renal, splanchnic, and leg circulation, as well as a four-chamber heart and pulmonary circulation. It also included the effects of gravity gradient and ergometer exercise. Centrifugation and exercise profiles were simulated and compared with experimental data gathered on 12 subjects exposed to a range of gravitational levels (1 and 1.4G measured at the feet) and workload intensities (25-100 W). The model was capable of reproducing cardiovascular changes (within1 SD from the group-averaged behavior) due to both centrifugation and exercise, including dynamic responses during transitions between the different phases of the protocol. The model was then used to simulate the hemodynamic response of hypovolemic subjects (blood volume reduced by 5-15%) subjected to similar gravitational stress and exercise profiles, providing insights into the physiological responses of experimental conditions not tested before. Hypovolemic results are in agreement with the limited available data and the expected responses based on physiological principles, although additional experimental data are warranted to further validate our predictions, especially during the exercise phases. The model captures the cardiovascular response for a range of centrifugation and exercise profiles, and it shows promise in simulating additional conditions where data collection is difficult, expensive, or infeasible.NEW & NOTEWORTHY Artificial gravity combined with exercise is a potential countermeasure for spaceflight deconditioning, but the long-term and acute cardiovascular response to such gravitational stress is still largely unknown. We provide a novel mathematical model of the cardiovascular system that incorporates gravitational stress generated by centrifugation and lower body cycling exercise, and we validate it with experimental measurements from human subjects. Simulations of experimental conditions not used for model development corroborate the model's predictive capabilities.
author list (cited authors)
Diaz-Artiles, A., Heldt, T., & Young, L. R.