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Gravit Space Biol Bull. 2005 Jun;18(2):31-5.

Use of animal models for space flight physiology studies, with special focus on the immune system.

Author information

1
Department of Biological Sciences, Binghamton University, State University of New York, Binghamton, NY, USA. sonneng@binghamton.edu
2
Binghamton U, NY

Abstract

Animal models have been used to study the effects of space flight on physiological systems. The animal models have been used because of the limited availability of human subjects for studies to be carried out in space as well as because of the need to carry out experiments requiring samples and experimental conditions that cannot be performed using humans. Experiments have been carried out in space using a variety of species, and included developmental biology studies. These species included rats, mice, non-human primates, fish, invertebrates, amphibians and insects. The species were chosen because they best fit the experimental conditions required for the experiments. Experiments with animals have also been carried out utilizing ground-based models that simulate some of the effects of exposure to space flight conditions. Most of the animal studies have generated results that parallel the effects of space flight on human physiological systems. Systems studied have included the neurovestibular system, the musculoskeletal system, the immune system, the neurological system, the hematological system, and the cardiovascular system. Hindlimb unloading, a ground-based model of some of the effects of space flight on the immune system, has been used to study the effects of space flight conditions on physiological parameters. For the immune system, exposure to hindlimb unloading has been shown to results in alterations of the immune system similar to those observed after space flight. This has permitted the development of experiments that demonstrated compromised resistance to infection in rodents maintained in the hindlimb unloading model as well as the beginning of studies to develop countermeasures to ameliorate or prevent such occurrences. Although there are limitations to the use of animal models for the effects of space flight on physiological systems, the animal models should prove very valuable in designing countermeasures for exploration class missions of the future.

PMID:
16038091
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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