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January 28, 1998

Pulmonary Function in Space

Author Affiliations

Margaret A.WinkerMD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 1998;279(4):275-276. doi:10.1001/jama.279.4.271

To the Editor.—The article entitled "Pulmonary Function in Space" by Dr West and colleagues1 promised full coverage of this area of research. The authors stated, "A few previous studies of lung function in microgravity were performed by means of parabolic flights in high-performance aircraft." Because I am involved in Soviet-Russian aerospace research, I was surprised by this statement. The author's reference list contains no references to research from the Russian space program. A MEDLINE search since 1970 for titles including lungs/respiration andspace/kosmos/immersion and originating from the USSR or Russia or published in Russian yielded 65 relevant articles. I am not suggesting that the article by West et al is biased without presentation of Russian research; the authors stated that they only reviewed Spacelab experiments. However, the article has references to textbooks from 1964 and 1968, as well as to numerous publications by West et al since 1972—all of which were published long before the Spacelab. There is no doubt that valuable Spacelab experiments are based on the previous data. However, both Russian space research and US space research are the keystone of this experience.