Functional Immune Alterations, Latent Herpesvirus Reactivation, Physiological Stress and Clinical Incidence Onboard the International Space Station (Functional_Immune)
Scientific Name: Homo sapiens Species: Human
Some aspects of adaptive cellular immunity have been characterized during space flight, while many other areas of immunity (humoral, innate, cell specific functional, etc.) have not. The objective of this project is to characterize multiple diverse facets of immunoregulation during long-duration space flight. Investigators hypothesize that while aspects of adaptive immune function are depressed during space flight, aspects of humoral or innate immune function may be unaltered or even sensitized. This would explain the observed reactivation of latent herpesviruses in astronauts, and also the elevated incidence of skin rashes and hypersensitivity reactions during International Space Station (ISS) missions. If the hypothesis is validated, it would be an important consideration for any future immunology countermeasures. For example, one would not give an immune ‘booster’ to address T cell function in a crewmember if it might potentially worsen on-orbit skin rashes or allergy symptoms. Investigators further hypothesize that there is a widely disparate post-landing recovery for various aspects of immune dysregulation following flight. Previous data have demonstrated that ISS astronauts maintain shedding of latent herpesviruses at least to R+30. This study will fully characterize all relevant immune dysregulation through a post-mission recovery.
The specific scientific aims are as follows:
- Longitudinally examine the effect of space flight on previously uninvestigated aspects of immunobiology including leukocyte distribution and various aspects of innate cellular function. Several previously validated assays of adaptive cellular distribution and function will be examined concurrently to correlate both innate and adaptive immune dysregulation within crewmembers.
- Determine the effect of space flight on various soluble markers of in-vivo immune-physiological status, including plasma, salivary and urinary markers of stress, inflammation, cytokine profiles, antimicrobial activity, and latent viral reactivation. Several solicited parameters are also planned to augment this specific aim, including proteomics and/or genomics.
- Correlate findings of immune status with astronaut environmental, human, and stress factors such as sleep/wake data, crew work schedules, surveys of in-flight symptomology and/or medication use (voluntary), vehicle docking/undocking, extravehicular activity (EVA), etc. This correlative work should help to inform NASA’s scientific and operational communities about the influence of spaceflight-specific environmental factors on immunity, factors which may potentially be modulated in accordance with countermeasures development.
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The primary purpose of the study is to determine both acute and chronic alterations in crewmember immunobiology (both innate and adaptive parameters) in conjunction with relevant parameters from other disciplines (nutritional, radiation, virology, host-pathogen, stress, etc.). Parameters will be examined longitudinally in astronauts before, during, and following space flight. Postflight assessments will be extended to determine the time course for full recovery of any dysregulated parameters.
This experiment is in progress. Results will be available at the conclusion of the study.
Archiving in progress. Data is not yet available for this experiment.
Complete blood count (CBC)
Cytokine levels, plasma
Cytokine profile, saliva
Cytokine profiles, mitogen stimulated
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) DNA
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Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) infected B cells
Epstein–Barr virus (EBV), saliva
Herpes simplex virus (HSV), saliva
JC virus (JCV)
Peripheral leukocyte distribution
Plasma allergy profile
Regulatory T cells (tregs)
Stress hormone levels
T cell function
Varicella-zoster virus (VZV), saliva
Viral specific antibody titers
Virus specific T cell number
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: https://humanresearchroadmap.nasa.gov/
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for information of how this experiment is contributing to the HRP's path for risk reduction.
Managing NASA Center
Johnson Space Center (JSC)
Responsible NASA Representative
Johnson Space Center LSDA Office
Project Manager: Jessica Keune
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Alternate Experiment Name