Although we have sent humans into space for more than 50 years, crucial questions regarding immune response in space conditions remain unanswered. There are many complex interactions between the immune system and other physiological systems in the human body. This makes it difficult to study the combined long-term effects of space stressors such as radiation and microgravity. In particular, exposure to microgravity and cosmic radiation may produce changes in the performance of the immune system at the cellular and molecular levels and in the major physiological systems of the body. Consequently, abnormal immune responses induced in the space environment may have serious health consequences, especially in future long-term space missions. In particular, radiation-induced immune effects pose significant health challenges for long-duration space exploration missions with potential risks to reduce the organism’s ability to respond to injuries, infections, and vaccines, and predispose astronauts to the onset of chronic diseases (e.g., immunosuppression, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, gut dysbiosis). Other deleterious effects encountered by radiation may include cancer and premature aging, induced by dysregulated redox and metabolic processes, microbiota, immune cell function, endotoxin, and pro-inflammatory signal production 1,2. In this review, we summarize and highlight the current understanding of the effects of microgravity and radiation on the immune system and discuss knowledge gaps that future studies should address.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Materials Science (miscellaneous)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)
- Space and Planetary Science