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Clin Nutr. 2002 Jun;21(3):231-8.

Nutrition beyond nutrition: plausibility of immunotrophic nutrition for space travel.

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Department of Surgery, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, USA.



Microgravity has adverse effects on the immune system. We examined the effects of supplemental dietary nucleotides on immune function in ground-based in vivo anti-orthostatic tail-suspended (AOS) mice and in vitro (bioreactor-BIO) analogs of microgravity.


BALB/c mice were divided into the following three groups: group housed, single isolation, and AOS. Mice were fed either control chow or chow supplemented with RNA or uracil. Immune function was assessed by in vivo popliteal lymph node proliferation (PLN), in vitro PHA-stimulated proliferation of splenocytes and cytokine production. BIO splenocytes were cultured in vitro with/without PHA, a nucleoside-nucleotide mixture (NS/NT) or uridine. The cell proliferation and scanning electron microscopic examination for cells were carried out.


PLN response was significantly suppressed in AOS mice (P<0.05) and was restored by RNA and uracil diets. Splenocytes from AOS mice had decreased phytohemagglutinin (PHA)-stimulated proliferation, decreased IL-2 and IFN-gamma cytokine levels (P<0.05). These responses were restored by RNA and uracil diets. In BIO cultures, PHA response was suppressed significantly, and uridine and NS/NT restored the proliferative responses. Scanning electron microscopic analysis of cells cultured in BIO revealed cells with pinched, distorted and eroded membranes. Nucleotide supplementation especially uridine restored normal activated cell surface appearance and ruffling.


In the microgravity analog environment of AOS and BIO, supplemental nucleotides and especially uracil/uridine have up-regulating and immunoprotective effects with potential as a countermeasure to the observed immune dysfunction in true microgravity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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