Genetic models in applied physiology: selected contribution: effects of spaceflight on immunity in the C57BL/6 mouse. II. Activation, cytokines, erythrocytes, and platelets.

Document Type


Publication Date


JAX Source

J Appl Physiol 2003 May; 94(5):2095-2103.


This portion of the study quantified the effects of a 12-day space shuttle mission (Space Transport System-108/UF-1) on body and lymphoid organ masses, activation marker expression, cytokine secretion, and erythrocyte and thrombocyte characteristics in C57BL/6 mice. Animals in flight (Flt group) had 10-12% lower body mass compared with ground controls housed either in animal enclosure modules or under standard vivarium conditions (P < 0.001) and the smallest thymus and spleen masses. Percentages of CD25(+) lymphocytes, CD3(+)/CD25(+) T cells, and NK1.1(+)/CD25(+) natural killer cells from Flt mice were higher compared with both controls (P < 0.05). In contrast, CD71 expression was depressed in the Flt and animal enclosure module control mice compared with vivarium control animals (P < 0.001). Secretion of interferon-gamma, IL-2, and IL-4, but not tumor necrosis factor-alpha and IL-5, by splenocytes from Flt mice was decreased relative to either one or both ground controls (P < 0.05). Flt mice also had high red blood cell and thrombocyte counts compared with both sets of controls; low red blood cell volume and distribution width, percentage of reticulocytes, and platelet volume were also noted (P < 0.05) and were consistent with dehydration. These data indicate that relatively short exposure to the spaceflight environment can induce profound changes that may become significant during long-term space missions.