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The Impact of Modeled Microgravity and Prior Radiation Exposure on Cytomegalovirus Reactivation and Host Immune Evasion (CMV_Reactivation)
Principal Investigator
Research Area:
Species Studied
Scientific Name: Species: Cells, human
Scientific Name: Species: Cells, mouse



The reactivation of latent herpes viruses poses a significant risk to the health and safety of the crew during exploration class space flight missions. Of particular concern is cytomegalovirus (CMV), which infects 50-80% of the US population and is known to cause significant morbidity and mortality in immunocompromised patients. CMV DNA is frequently found in the body fluids of astronauts during space travel indicating that the space flight environment can initiate active CMV infections. As space flight also causes huge alterations in the normal functioning of the immune system, CMV reactivation in a potentially immunosuppressed crewmember could have disastrous consequences during long-duration exploration class missions. The effects of microgravity on CMV replication and its potential to evade the host immune system are unknown. In this study, investigators will utilize the rotating wall vessel (RWV) cell culture system to simulate microgravity on Earth allowing them to study the virulent and infectivity properties of CMV and how it interacts with host immune cells in the absence of gravity. The investigators hypothesized that modeled microgravity wiould evoke changes in cellular gene expression that will underpin CMV reactivation and increase virus replication and infectivity. They further postulated that modeled microgravity would impair the anti-CMV responses of host T-cells and NK-cells that will allow viral persistence and replication to occur.

This study had the following specific aims:

1. Determine the effects of modeled microgravity and radiation on CMV replication and the expression of genes associated with latency and lytic activity.

2. Determine the impact of modeled microgravity and radiation on the anti-CMV activity of host Tcells and NK-cells.

3. Determine the impact of modeled microgravity on the anti-CMV activity of host T-cells and NK-cells.

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Graff RM, Kunz HE, Agha NH, Baker FL, Laughlin M, Bigley AB, Markofski MM, LaVoy EC, Katsanis E, Bond RA, Bollard CM, and Simpson RJ. ß2-adrenergic receptor signaling mediates the preferential mobilization of differentiated subsets of CD8+ T-cells, NK-cells and non-classical monocytes in response to acute exercise in humans. Brain Behavior and Immunity. 2018. November; 74:143-153. [DOI]

Radiation effects

Data Information
Data Availability
Archive is complete. Data sets are not publicly available but can be requested.
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Cytomegalovirus (CMV), DNA
Cytomegalovirus (CMV), infectivity
Cytomegalovirus (CMV), molecular profile
Cytomegalovirus (CMV), reactivation
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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: Jessica Keune
Institutional Support
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Alternate Experiment Name
Proposal Date
Proposal Source
2014-15 HERO NNJ14ZSA001N