Research indicates that exposure to microgravity leads to immune system dysregulation. However, there is a lack of clear evidence on the specific reasons and precise mechanisms accounting for these immune system changes. Past studies investigating space travel-induced alterations in immunological parameters report many conflicting results, explained by the role of certain confounders, such as cosmic radiation, individual body environment, or differences in experimental design. To minimize the variability in results and to eliminate some technical challenges, we advocate conducting thorough feasibility studies prior to actual suborbital or orbital space experiments. We show how exposure to suborbital flight stressors and the use of a two-dimensional slow rotating device affect T-cells and cancer cells survivability. To enhance T-cell activation and viability, we primed them alone or in combination with IL-2 and IL-12 cytokines. Viability of T-cells was assessed before, during the experiment, and at the end of the experiment for which T-cells were counted every day for the last 4 days to allow the cells to form clear structures and do not disturb their evolution into various geometries. The slow rotating device could be considered a good system to perform T-cell activation studies and develop cell aggregates for various types of cells that react differently to thermal stressors.
Pedro J. Llanos, Kristina Andrijauskaite, Vijay V. Duraisamy, Francisco Pastrana, Erik L. Seedhouse, Sathya Gangadharan, Leonid Bunegin and Mariel Rico
Cell Research Experiment In Microgravity (CRExIM) was launched aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital vehicle on Tuesday, December 12, 2017, from the West Texas Launch Site in Van Horn, Texas. One of the aims of this science experiment was to assess the effects of microgravity on murine T-cells during suborbital flight. These cells were placed in a NanoLab with a data logger that sensed the acceleration, temperature, and relative humidity during preflight, flight, and postflight operations. Some discrepancies in sensor measurement were noticed, and these errors were attributed partly to the difference in sampling rates and partly to the different locations of the sensors, which made it difficult to obtain highly accurate measurements of the accelerations and to correlate both sets of data. This paper discusses the setbacks and lessons learned, which made our team find new alternatives while meeting all milestones as mandated by NanoRacks and Blue Origin. This manuscript highlights these alternatives that led to the success of the mission and gives recommendations that will enable customers to alleviate some of these challenges in future flights.