Exposure to space flight conditions has been shown to result in alterations in immune responses. Changes in immune responses of humans and experimental animals have been shown to be altered during and after space flight of humans and experimental animals or cell cultures of lymphoid cells. Exposure of subjects to ground-based models of space flight conditions, such as hindlimb unloading of rodents or chronic bed rest of humans, has also resulted in changes in the immune system. The relationship of these changes to compromised resistance to infection or tumors in space flight has not been fully established, but results from model systems suggest that alterations in the immune system that occur in space flight conditions may be related to decreases in resistance to infection. The establishment of such a relationship could lead to the development of countermeasures that could prevent or ameliorate any compromises in resistance to infection resulting from exposure to space flight conditions. An understanding of the mechanisms of space flight conditions effects on the immune response and development of countermeasures to prevent them could contribute to the development of treatments for compromised immunity on earth.
Keywords: bed rest, hindlimb unloading, immunity, infection, microgravity, space flight
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