Infectious Disease Risks Associated with Exposure to Stressful Environments 932140
Multiple environmental factors associated with space flight can increase the risk of infectious illness among crewmembers thereby adversely affecting crew health and mission success. Host defenses can be impaired by multiple physiological and psychological stressors including: sleep deprivation, disrupted circadian rhythms, separation from family, perceived danger, radiation exposure, and possibly also by the direct and indirect effects of microgravity. Relevant human immunological data from isolated or stressful environments including spaceflight will be reviewed. Long-duration missions should include reliable hardware which supports sophisticated immunodiagnostic capabilities. Future advances in immunology and molecular biology will continue to provide therapeutic agents and biologic response modifiers which should effectively and selectively restore immune function which has been depressed by exposure to environmental stressors.