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Space station and space flight gravity influence immune system development

Date:
October 15, 2012
Source:
Université du Luxembourg
Summary:
Immune system development is affected by gravity changes, according to new research. Astronauts are exposed to stresses, during launch and landing, which disrupts their body’s natural defenses against infection. Changes to the immune system need to be investigated before astronauts undergo longer space missions, experts say. 

New research findings recently published in The FASEB Journal, show that immune system development is affected by gravity changes, as reported by researchers from the University of Lorraine and University of Luxembourg. Astronauts are exposed to stresses, during launch and landing, which disrupts their body's natural defenses against infection. Changes to the immune system need to be investigated before astronauts undergo longer space missions.

Researchers looked at how antibody production is affected when animal development occurs onboard a space station and which part of space travel has the greatest impact on antibodies, which are the proteins that the immune system uses to protect us from diseases. To do this, they sent Iberian ribbed newt, Pleurodeles waltl, embryos to the International Space Station before the newt embryos started to develop IgM antibody, which is also found in humans and is the largest antibody that circulates in blood.

Upon landing, they were compared with embryos grown on Earth. Antibody mRNAs in space and earth newts were different. The IgM antibody was doubled at landing. Findings show that gravity changes during development affect antibodies and the regeneration of white blood cells, which are important in defending the body against infectious diseases. Spaceflight did not affect newt development nor did it cause inflammation.

Scientists believe that these changes could also occur in humans, and require further experimentation to see how gravity can influence the immune system and white blood cell function, which play a role in many human diseases including cancer and diabetes.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Université du Luxembourg. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. C. Huin-Schohn, N. Gueguinou, V. Schenten, M. Bascove, G. G. Koch, S. Baatout, E. Tschirhart, J.-P. Frippiat. Gravity changes during animal development affect IgM heavy-chain transcription and probably lymphopoiesis. The FASEB Journal, 2012; DOI: 10.1096/fj.12-217547

Cite This Page:

Université du Luxembourg. "Space station and space flight gravity influence immune system development." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121015093704.htm>.
Université du Luxembourg. (2012, October 15). Space station and space flight gravity influence immune system development. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121015093704.htm
Université du Luxembourg. "Space station and space flight gravity influence immune system development." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121015093704.htm (accessed August 31, 2014).

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