Immuno will determine neuroendocrine and immunological changes during and after working and living on the International Space Station (ISS). A focus on cellular energy metabolism and cell signaling will provide additional information on the psycho-neuroendocrine and immunologic adaptation of human physiology to space and a better insight on how these processes are dependent on the cellular level of signal processing. The aim of this experiment was to determine changes in stress and immune responses, during and after a stay on the ISS. This included the sampling of saliva, blood and urine to check for hormones associated with stress response and for carrying out white blood cell analysis.
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Space flight effects on the immune system were studied in 30 cosmonauts flown onto the ISS for long- and short-term missions. Immunological investigations before launch and after landing were performed by using methods for quantitative and functional evaluation of the immunologically competent cells. Specific assays include: peripheral leukocyte distribution, natural killer (NK) cell cytotoxic activity, phagocytic activity of monocytes and granulocytes, proliferation of T-cells in response to a mitogen, levels of immunoglobulins IgA, IgM, IgG, virus-specific antibody and cytokine in serum.
This investigation analyzed the immune system of 30 astronauts on short- and long-duration missions. Observations include: no notable changes in antiviral antibody levels, specific antibodies for Epstein-Barr viruses. There is a marked increase in white blood cells, however no change in overall population of T- and B-lymphocytes. Observed decreases in T-lymphocyte function, cytokines (cell-signaling agents), and in population and activity of natural killer cells (defenders against microbes and toxins) could mean more susceptibility to potential infections. Because such alterations could compromise the body's defenses against pathogens, in depth studies of the post-flight immune system in human space explorers are essential.
Morukov BV, Rykova MP, Antropova EN, Berendeeva T, Ponomaryov S,and Larina IM. T-cell immunity and cytokine production in cosmonauts after long-duration space flights. Acta Astronautica. 2011; 68: 739-746.
Rykova MP, Antropova EN, Larina IM, and Morukov BV. Humoral and cellular immunity in cosmonauts after the ISS mission. Acta Astronautica. 2008; 63: 697-705.
Strewe C, Feuerecker M, Nichiporuk IA, Kaufmann I, Hauer D, Morukov BV, Schelling G, and Chouker A. Effects of parabolic flight and spaceflight on the endocannabinoid system in humans. Reviews in the Neurosciences.
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