A countermeasure to ameliorate immune dysfunction in in vitro simulated microgravity environment: role of cellularnucleotide nutrition

In Vitro Cell Dev Biol Anim. 2002 Apr;38(4):213-7. doi: 10.1290/1071-2690(2002)038<0213:ACTAID>2.0.CO;2.


Considerable evidence suggests that space travelers are immunosuppressed, presumably by microgravity environmental stresses, putting them at risk for adverse effects, such as opportunistic infections, poor wound healing, and cancer. The purpose of this study was to examine the role and mechanisms of nucleotide (NT) supplementation as a countermeasure to obviate immunosuppression during space travel. The in vitro rotary cell culture system, a bioreactor (BIO), was used to simulate the effect of microgravity and to isolate the neuroendocrine effects inherent to in vitro models. The splenocytes from normal mice were cultured in BIO and control tissue culture (TC) flasks with and without phytohemagglutinin (PHA) for mitogen assays. The culture medium was then supplemented with various concentrations of a nucleosides-nucleotides mixture (NS + NT), inosine, and uridine. Cytokines interleukin (IL)-1beta, IL-2, IL-3, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, and interferon (IFN)-gamma were measured from the supernatant by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. In the PHA-stimulated cultures the cellular proliferation in the BIO was significantly decreased as compared with the TC flask cells. BIO-cultured cells in the presence of NS + NT maintained mitogen responses similar to the control TC flask cells. The maintenance of the mitogen response in BIO was observed by the supplementation of uridine and not of inosine. These results are in agreement with our earlier results from unit gravity experiments that showed that pyrimidines are more effective in pleiogenic immunoprotection to hosts. Cytokines IL-1beta, IL-2, and IFN-gamma in the BIO supernatants of cells cultured in the presence of NS + NT had a significantly higher response than the control vessel. Thus, supplemental NT, especially pyrimidines, can confer immune protection and enhance cytokine responses during space travel.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bioreactors
  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods
  • Female
  • Lymphocyte Activation*
  • Lymphocytes / cytology
  • Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Reference Values
  • Spleen / immunology
  • Weightlessness Simulation*