Immunology and Microbiology
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While no illnesses or infections have been linked to altered immune response due to space flight, it is apparent that changes in immunity can potentially impact the crew during space flight. Neither the extent of space flight-induced immunological changes nor their consequences to the crew can be fully determined at the present time. Factors such as the physical and psychological stressors associated with space flight appear to be the major contributors to the observed immune alterations, although direct effects of weihtlessness on cells of the immune system or their regulation cannot be ruled out. The complex interplay of these immune changes with the unique environmental challenges present in the spacecraft must be fully understood to minimize the impacts on flight operations. Much more study of immune factors during space flight and the fine balance between immune regulation and clinical response in healthy normal individuals will be required to make realistic projections of crewmember risks during and after extended space flight. The ground-based study of analog populations and correlation of immune dysregulation and clinical events will shed more light on this scenario. This information will provide the basis for mission planners and flight surgeons to design systems that minimize the potential for adverse events and increase productivity, comfort, and safety of the crew during flight and upon return to Earth.
KeywordsImmune alteration in space flight Closed chamber immune studies Immune dysregulation Immune factors during space flight Viral reactivation in space flight
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