Space Travel Won’t Affect A Major Aspect Of Immune System

Posted: Dec 9 2018, 1:12pm CST | by , Updated: Dec 9 2018, 1:16pm CST, in Latest Science News


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Space Travel won’t Affect a Major Aspect of Immune System
Credit: NASA

Researchers have found that B-cell immune competency was unaffected during long-term mission on the ISS.

Astronauts who spend extended periods of time in space can experience health issues. While a considerable amount of research has been conducted to identify and quantify the extent of these health problems, much less is known about how spaceflight affects immunity.

The immune system is necessary to stay healthy and to protect body from infections, so any changes in this system can trigger illness. Previous studies have highlighted potential adverse effects of microgravity exposure on immune system. But a new study has shown that long-duration space missions do not affect at least one major aspect of immune system.

"Long-duration orbital spaceflights are associated with increased levels of psychological stress, acute and chronic exposure to space radiation and microgravity-induced changes, all of which are known to detrimentally impact the immune system. However, the effects of spaceflight on B-cell immunity—a major arm of the immune system—has remained unclear.” Guillaume Spielmann from Louisiana State University said in a statement.

B-cells, also known as B lymphocytes, are an essential type of white blood cells that produce highly potent antibodies and fight harmful pathogens.

To investigate changes in them, blood samples were collected from astronauts before, during and after 6 months living on the International Space Station. Study has confirmed that exposure to prolonged microgravity does not affect B-cell immune competency.

White blood cells like B-cells are indicative of the presence of illness. Understanding modifications in them may help researchers better understand the onset of illnesses and what strategies can be used to mitigate them.

"This is the first study to comprehensively show that long-duration spaceflight in human astronauts has limited effect on B-cell frequency and antibody production.” John Campbell from University of Bath said.

Researchers suggest that their study could provide new insights to maintain health and improve performance of astronauts during future long-term missions on space station.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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