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Latent Viral Shedding in Small Isolated Groups (NEEMO-E049)
Principal Investigator
Research Area:
Human factors
Species Studied
Scientific Name: Homo sapiens Species: Human

Long-duration space missions require that astronauts live and work together in extremely isolated conditions, apart from family and friends. Data from previous studies in the Antarctic suggest that many of the psychological difficulties experienced in the isolated environment of winter-over stations and traverses are due to interpersonal tensions and conflicts, and separation from the home environment. Other studies have shown that psychological stress and the availability of social support may play a role in maintaining immune function. Virtually all adults carry latent viruses as a result of previous viral infections. When the immune system is not functioning optimally, it allows these latent viruses to become active, which results in viral shedding (the viruses appear in various body fluids, like blood, urine and saliva). This situation is quite common and does not mean that the affected individual is sick or unhealthy. Two of the most common viruses studied are Epstein-Barr and herpesvirus, because almost all adults have been exposed to them in their early years. This study seeks to better understand the relationships among psychological stress, social support, and shedding of Epstein-Barr and herpesvirus in extreme environments.

The purpose of this research was to examine the moderating effects of social support on the relationship between stress and viral reactivation in space analog environments.

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DNA, viral/analysis
Herpes Zoster/virology
Herpesvirus 3, human/physiology
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Data Information
Data Availability
Archive is complete. Data sets are not publicly available but can be requested.
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Antigen-specific t-cell response
Cell-mediated immunity (CMI)
Epstein-Barr virus: fold increase in copy numbers
Epstein-Barr virus: saliva
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Mission/Study Information
Mission Launch/Start Date Landing/End Date Duration
NEEMO 4 09/23/2002 09/27/2002 5 days
NEEMO 5 06/16/2003 06/29/2003 14 days

Additional Information
Other Key People
Managing NASA Center
Johnson Space Center (JSC)
Responsible NASA Representative
Johnson Space Center LSDA Office
Project Manager: Pamela A. Bieri
Institutional Support
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)