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Brain Behav Immun. 2014 Jul;39:23-32. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2014.01.011. Epub 2014 Jan 24.

Terrestrial stress analogs for spaceflight associated immune system dysregulation.

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NASA Johnson Space Center, Division of Biomedical and Environmental Sciences, Houston, TX, United States. Electronic address:
Laboratory of Integrated Physiology, Department of Health and Human Performance, University of Houston, Houston, TX, United States.
EASI Inc., Houston, TX, United States.
Microgen Laboratories, Inc., La Marque, TX, United States.
Hospital of the Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Department of Anesthesiology, Munich, Germany.
University of Texas-Houston Medical School, Department of Pathology, Houston, TX, United States.
Department of HIV Infection, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, London, United Kingdom.
NASA Johnson Space Center, Division of Biomedical and Environmental Sciences, Houston, TX, United States.
NASA Johnson Space Center, Space and Clinical Operations Division, Houston, TX, United States.


Recent data indicates that dysregulation of the immune system occurs and persists during spaceflight. Impairment of immunity, especially in conjunction with elevated radiation exposure and limited clinical care, may increase certain health risks during exploration-class deep space missions (i.e. to an asteroid or Mars). Research must thoroughly characterize immune dysregulation in astronauts to enable development of a monitoring strategy and validate any necessary countermeasures. Although the International Space Station affords an excellent platform for on-orbit research, access may be constrained by technical, logistical vehicle or funding limitations. Therefore, terrestrial spaceflight analogs will continue to serve as lower cost, easier access platforms to enable basic human physiology studies. Analog work can triage potential in-flight experiments and thus result in more focused on-orbit studies, enhancing overall research efficiency. Terrestrial space analogs generally replicate some of the physiological or psychological stress responses associated with spaceflight. These include the use of human test subjects in a laboratory setting (i.e. exercise, bed rest, confinement, circadian misalignment) and human remote deployment analogs (Antarctica winterover, undersea, etc.) that incorporate confinement, isolation, extreme environment, physiological mission stress and disrupted circadian rhythms. While bed rest has been used to examine the effects of physical deconditioning, radiation and microgravity may only be simulated in animal or microgravity cell culture (clinorotation) analogs. This article will characterize the array of terrestrial analogs for spaceflight immune dysregulation, the current evidence base for each, and interpret the analog catalog in the context of acute and chronic stress.


Cytokines; Exercise; Immunity; Spaceflight; Stress; T cells

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