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J Leukoc Biol. 2009 Nov;86(5):1027-38. doi: 10.1189/jlb.0309167. Epub 2009 Aug 18.

Could spaceflight-associated immune system weakening preclude the expansion of human presence beyond Earth's orbit?

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  • 1Development and Immunogenetics Team, Nancy-University, Faculté de Médecine, 5400 Vandoeuvre-lès-Nancy, JE 2537, France.


This year, we celebrate the 40th birthday of the first landing of humans on the moon. By 2020, astronauts should return to the lunar surface and establish an outpost there that will provide a technical basis for future manned missions to Mars. This paper summarizes major constraints associated with a trip to Mars, presents immunological hazards associated with this type of mission, and shows that our current understanding of the immunosuppressive effects of spaceflight is limited. Weakening of the immune system associated with spaceflight is therefore an area that should be considered more thoroughly before we undertake prolonged space voyages.

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