Effects of Microgravity on the Immune System 911515
Changes in resistance to bacterial and viral infections in Apollo crew members has stimulated interest in the study of immunity and space flight. Results of studies from several laboratories in both humans and rodents have indicated alterations after space flight that include the following immunological parameters: thymus size, lymphocyte blastogenesis, interferon and interleukin production, natural killer cell activity, cytotoxic T-cell activity, leukocyte subset population distribution, response of bone marrow cells to colony stimulating factors, and delayed hypersensitivity skin test reactivity. The interactions of the immune system with other physiological systems, including muscle, bone, and the nervous system, may play a major role in the development of these immunological parameters during and after flight. There may also be direct effects of space flight on immune responses.