The Effect of Microgravity on Parathyroid Hormone Secretion: A Meta-Analysis

Benjamin Shepard Blue


Background: The relationship between microgravity and parathyroid hormone (PTH), a keystone of bone mineral density, remains controversial. Bone loss is a prominent, ongoing issue in spaceflight, and PTH has been suggested as a treatment for microgravity-induced osteopenia, indicating the importance of this hormone. This systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to evaluate the association between exposure to microgravity and the production of PTH.

Methods: PubMed, Embase, Scopus, and Google Scholar were searched for studies reporting PTH levels during and after exposure to microgravity. Non-peer-reviewed articles, studies lacking control groups, and articles published earlier than 2002 were excluded. Twelve articles from 2002 to present, with a total of 145 subjects, were identified and the standardized mean differences from baseline PTH levels were combined in a random effects model. Two-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) with Tukey honestly significant difference (HSD) testing on weighted mean differences was conducted to obtain 95% confidence intervals.

Results: Compared to baseline measurements, significant changes in PTH levels are found during and after microgravity exposure. In-flight levels significantly decrease (P < 0.01), and post-flight levels show increases. Furthermore, there is evidence of an interaction between experimental condition (real or simulated microgravity) and time after removal from microgravity on PTH.

Conclusions: The findings of this systematic review and meta-analysis suggest that microgravity affects parathyroid gland function during and after spaceflight, with decreases in function in-flight and an increase at 7 days post-flight. Experimental condition also appears to play a role in the recovery timeline of PTH.

J Endocrinol Metab. 2023;13(1):1-12


Microgravity; Endocrine; Parathyroid; Bone metabolism

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