The experiment tested whether initial specific activation of T cells is intact and whether memory T cell function is maintained during space flight to determine resistance to infections and acquired immune responses.
Transgenic T cells specific for a model protein were transferred into recipient mice with implanted mini-pumps that released the model protein along with non-infectious purified bacterial cell wall components. This model allowed T cell stimulation to be delayed until after mice acclimated to space flight to ensure that T cell activation was initiated in microgravity. NaÔve (previously unactivated) T cells were transferred to determine whether responses to new immunological challenges (e.g. new infections) were intact. Also, previously activated T cells that developed into memory cells were transferred to determine whether robust secondary responses could be elicited during space flight.
RNA recovery from the activated ground and flight samples was successful. Preliminary RTPCR results showed lowered T-cell activation in the flown animals and, therefore, complete and successful analysis of the gene arrays and pathways operational for the ground and spaceflight samples are expected in our continuing studies.
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