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The Impact of Long-duration Spaceflight on the Function of B-cells and Biomarkers of Inflammation (NNX17AB16G)
Principal Investigator
Research Area:
Biomedical countermeasures
Species Studied
Scientific Name: Homo sapiens Species: Human

Long-duration space flights are associated with increased levels of psychological stress, acute and chronic exposure to space radiation, and microgravity-induced changes which are known to detrimentally impact the immune system. Studies have evaluated the magnitude of immune alterations during space flight, however, due to logistical constraints unique to the space flight environment, they have either been limited to short-duration space flight missions or to basic pre- and postflight measures. The successful implementation of exploration-class missions to Mars or other near-Earth objects requires a better understanding of the impact of long-duration space flight on the immune system in order to evaluate the risks associated with immune dysregulations. In this regard, The Effects of Long-Term Exposure to Microgravity on Salivary Markers of Innate Immunity (Salivary_Markers) and Validation of Procedures for Monitoring Crewmember Immune Function (SMO 015) were conducted in order to assess immune function relating to cells of innate and adaptive immunity, as well as salivary immune parameters during a six-month mission on the International Space Station (ISS). These studies provided important data relating to innate immunity and immune cell changes during space flight, however it remains unknown whether astronauts become immunocompromised during space flight.

The main goal of this study was to characterize acute and chronic changes in polyclonal Free Light Chains (FLC), and in Immunoglobulin (Ig) class switching, indicative of a state of chronic inflammation and overall B-cell function. Investigators also assessed if changes to these sensitive biomarkers are associated with altered risk of viral reactivation and subsequent inflammation.

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Spielmann, G Campbell, J Crucian, BE, Laughlin MS, and Simpson RJ. The impact of long duration spaceflight on the function of plasma cells. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. May 2018, 50(5S):336, [DOI]

Spielmann G, Agha N, Kunz H, Simpson RJ, Crucian B, Mehta S, Laughlin M, Campbell J. B cell homeostasis is maintained during long-duration spaceflight. Journal of Applied Physiology (1985). 2019. February 1; 126(2):469-476. [DOI]

Virus activation
Stress, psychological
Cell physiology

C-reactive protein (CRP)
Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
Immunoglobulin A (IgA)
Immunoglobulin G (IgG)
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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:

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Additional Information
Managing NASA Center
Johnson Space Center (JSC)
Responsible NASA Representative
Johnson Space Center LSDA Office
Project Manager: Eric Gallagher
Institutional Support
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Proposal Date
Proposal Source
2015-16 HERO NNJ15ZSA001N