NanoRacks-CellBox-Primary Human Macrophages in Microgravity Environment (NanoRacks-CellBox-PRIME) - 11.19.14
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Immune cells called macrophages fight illness by attacking and killing bacteria and other foreign invaders in the body. But microgravity, which suppresses the human immune system, can affect how well they work. NanoRacks-CellBox-Primary Human Macrophages in Microgravity Environment (NanoRacks-CellBox-PRIME) studies long-term changes to these cells to better understand how spaceflight affects the immune system.
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OpNom BioRack Experiment Containers
Astrium Space Transportation, Friedrichshafen, , Germany
NanoRacks, LLC, Webster, TX, United States
Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
National Laboratory (NL)
Scientific Discovery, Space Exploration, Earth Benefits
ISS Expedition Duration
March 2014 - September 2014
Previous ISS Missions
During space flight, the immune system is one of the most affected systems of the human body.
It is necessary to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which microgravity influences and changes the immune cell function during space flight.
NanoRacks-CellBox-Primary Human Macrophages in Microgravity Environment (NanoRacks-CellBox-PRIME) investigates microgravity-associated long-term alterations in primary human macrophages, the most important effector cells of the immune system, which are responsible for attacking, and killing bacteria and other foreign and pathogenic intruders in the human body.
The immune system is one of the most affected systems of the human body during space flight and cells of the immune system are exceptionally sensitive to microgravity. Thus, serious concerns arise, whether space flight associated weakening of the immune system ultimately precludes the expansion of human presence beyond the Earth's orbit. For human space flight, it is an urgent need to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which altered gravity influences and changes the immune cell function. NanoRacks-CellBox-Primary Human Macrophages in Microgravity Environment (NanoRacks-CellBox-PRIME) investigates the microgravity-associated long-term alterations in primary human macrophages, the most important effector cells of the immune system, which are responsible for attacking, and killing bacteria and other foreign and pathogenic intruders in the human body. Surface molecules are analyzed, which are required for recognition of bacteria and cell-cell communication, and the cytoskeletal architecture is investigated after several days in microgravity. Additionally, secretion products (such as cytokines) and metabolites in the cell culture supernatant are analyzed.
Primary human macrophages are attached to polycarbonates-slides on ground and implemented in the hardware, where they are cultured with the respective culture medium. After the incubation phase in space (in microgravity and in 1 g), cells are automatically fixed with 1% paraformaldehyde. After sample return, surface-molecules and components of the cytoskeleton are analyzed and quantified by immunocytochemistry / confocal microscopy. In-flight microgravity and 1g group are compared, in parallel with appropriate ground controls. Parameters to be analyzed are: Actin, vimentin, tubulin, MHCI, MHC-II, CD86, CD36, CD11a, CD11b, CD18 and ICAM-1. With this experiment, it is possible to assess the influence of microgravity on key molecules of migration, presentation of antigens, cell-cell-communication and activation of the specific immune system. A disturbed cytoskeleton, reduced surface receptors for the activation of T lymphocytes and for antigen presenting molecules could represent a dysfunctional macrophage phenotype, which could be no longer capable of migrating or recognizing and attacking pathogens and to activate the specific immune system.
Humans experience several negative physical changes in space, but the immune system takes one of the biggest hits. Future long-duration space missions might be compromised if crew members’ immune systems are severely weakened. Understanding how microgravity changes the immune system at the cellular and molecular level helps scientists design new strategies or treatments to maintain crew health.
Humans and all other life on Earth evolved in the presence of gravity, which affects how our cells grow and function. This investigation improves knowledge of how human cell structures and behaviors change in the absence of gravity, providing fundamental insight into cell biology.
BioRack Experiment Containers are returned at 4°C.
A crewmember installs BioRack Experiment Containers no later than docking +2 days. After automatic fixation, the containers must remain in the BioRack for a minimum of 12 days prior to the crewmember removing and storing at 4°C for return.
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