Scientists from the University of Ottawa have concluded that being in space causes immunodeficiency. In particular, the cosmonauts experienced a rapid decrease in the expression of genes associated with immune functions. The results of the study were published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology.
In the course of the work, the authors studied the expression of genes in leukocytes of 14 astronauts (3 women and 11 men) who were on board the ISS from 4.5 to 6.5 months from 2015 to 2019. Leukocytes were isolated from blood samples taken ten times: once before the flight, four times in flight and five times upon return. Related materials: We are not your brothers Scientists answer April 25, 2021 The end of aliens. Where do the mysterious signals from space come from and why extraterrestrial civilizations do not exist March 1, 2020 It turned out that 15,410 genes are differentially expressed in leukocytes. Among these genes, two clusters with 247 and 29 genes, respectively, were identified that changed their expression over the studied time scale. So, the genes in the first cluster were blocked during the flight into space and activated again when returning to Earth, and the genes of the second cluster, on the contrary. All genes from the two clusters predominantly encoded proteins, their main function was associated with the immune system and cellular structures. The discovery proves that astronauts are subject to a rapid decline in immune defenses. This is also confirmed by earlier observations: those in space have an increased risk of infectious diseases, they are more likely to suffer from skin rashes, they release more live viral particles, such as Epstein-Barr virus, chicken pox, herpes simplex virus type 1 and cytomegalovirus.