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Acute and Long Term Outcomes of Simulated Deep Space Radiation Exposure on Latent Viral CNS Infection and CNS Pathology (NNX13AO47G)
Principal Investigator
Research Area:
Radiation health
Species Studied
Scientific Name: Mus musculus Species: Mouse

The successful diaspora of humans into deep space requires an understanding of the risk of deep space radiation exposure on short- and long-term health outcomes, including risks to the central nervous system (CNS). Assessing CNS risk must consider the impact of deep space radiation on the behavior of latent neurotropic infectious agents that reside within the human CNS. Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is among the most widespread agent in this category, permanently infecting the nervous systems of more than 80% of the global population. Latent HSV cannot be eliminated from the nervous system and there is no vaccine to prevent infection. Thus for the foreseeable future, humans traveling into deep space will harbor this and other alpha-herpesviruses. While uncontrolled HSV replication in the CNS results in often fatal encephalitis, this virus also has the capacity to promote chronic inflammation and neurodegeneration. Indeed there is substantial evidence that in combination with genetic risk factors, HSV infection in the CNS further increases the probability of developing Alzheimer’s disease. During this study, the effects of simulated deep space radiation on the development of CNS pathology (reactive lesions) and the impact of latent and induced in vivo reactivation of HSV infection on the development of CNS pathology was determined together with the role that human ApoE alleles play in these processes.

This study had the following specific aims:

  1. Determine the combined effect of latent HSV infection and mission relevant doses of 56Fe and Protons in acute and long term CNS health.
  2. Determine the combined effect of latent HSV infection and mission relevant doses of 56Fe and Protons on long term CNS health in the background of huApoE allelic variation.

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Radiation effects
Central nervous system
Virus activation

Data Information
Data Availability
Archive is complete. Data sets are not publicly available but can be requested.
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Central nervous system damage
Herpes simplex virus
Inflammation markers
Oxidative stress
Trigeminal ganglia
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Mission/Study Information
Mission Launch/Start Date Landing/End Date Duration
Ground 05/01/2009 In Progress

Human Research Program (HRP) Human Research Roadmap (HRR) Information
Crew health and performance is critical to successful human exploration beyond low Earth orbit. The Human Research Program (HRP) investigates and mitigates the highest risks to human health and performance, providing essential countermeasures and technologies for human space exploration. Risks include physiological and performance effects from hazards such as radiation, altered gravity, and hostile environments, as well as unique challenges in medical support, human factors, and behavioral health support. The HRP utilizes an Integrated Research Plan (IRP) to identify the approach and research activities planned to address these risks, which are assigned to specific Elements within the program. The Human Research Roadmap is the web-based tool for communicating the IRP content.

The Human Research Roadmap is located at:

+ Click here for information of how this experiment is contributing to the HRP's path for risk reduction.

Additional Information
Managing NASA Center
Johnson Space Center (JSC)
Responsible NASA Representative
Johnson Space Center LSDA Office
Project Manager: Terry Hill
Institutional Support
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Proposal Date
Proposal Source
2012 Space Radiobiology