Immunology and Infections

By Faith Kuria, Camila Ruano, and Jaylon Wells

How it happens

Several immunological processes can be affected by space flight. However, there is little evidence to suggest that flight-induced immunological deficits lead to illness. Therefore, one of our goals has been to define models to examine host resistance during space flight. Our working hypothesis is that space flight crews will come from a heterogeneous population; the immune response gene make-up will be quite varied. It is unknown how much the immune response gene variation contributes to the potential threat from infectious organisms, allergic responses or other long term health problems (e.g. cancer). This article details recent efforts of the Kansas State University gravitational immunology group to assess how population heterogeneity impacts host health, either in laboratory experimental situations and/or using the skeletal unloading model of space-flight stress. This paper details our use of several mouse strains with several different genotypes. In particular, mice with varying MHCII allotypes and mice on the C57BL background with different genetic defects have been particularly useful tools with which to study infections by Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella typhimurium, Pasteurella pneumotropica and Ehrlichia chaffeensis. We propose that some of these experimental challenge models will be useful to assess the effects of space flight on host resistance to infection.

What is Immunology?

Immunology deals with physiological functioning of the immune system in states of both health and disease as well as malfunctions of the immune system in immunological disorders like allergies, hypersensitivities, immune deficiency, transplant rejection and autoimmune disorders.

Immunology deals with physical, chemical and physiological characteristics of the components of the immune system in vitro, in situ, and in vivo. Immunology has a vast array of uses in several disciplines of science and medical science.