Altered Immunological Response in Mice Subjected to Stress and Exposed to Fungal Spores
Space flight and related factors such as stress appear to have an adverse effect on astronauts' immune systems. The presence of potentially pathogenic microbes including several genera of fungi reported from spacecraft environment may be a cause of concern in such situations. In order to study the role of such organisms in causing opportunistic or allergic diseases in crewmembers, we have tried to develop an animal model. BALB/c mice were suspended upside down for varying periods of time to induce stress, and their lymphocyte functions were evaluated. These studies indicate that the stress resulted in lowered mitogen induced lymphocyte stimulation as represented by 3H-thymidine uptake. We have also studied the ability of these animals to respond to Aspergillus fumigatus spores. The results of the study clearly demonstrate a definite down-regulation in T-cell proliferation and a higher incidence of infection with A. fumigatus.