Towards human exploration of space: The THESEUS review series on immunology research priorities

NPJ Microgravity. 2016 Dec 1;2:16040. doi: 10.1038/npjmgrav.2016.40. eCollection 2016.


Dysregulation of the immune system occurs during spaceflight and may represent a crew health risk during exploration missions because astronauts are challenged by many stressors. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the biology of immune modulation under spaceflight conditions in order to be able to maintain immune homeostasis under such challenges. In the framework of the THESEUS project whose aim was to develop an integrated life sciences research roadmap regarding human space exploration, experts working in the field of space immunology, and related disciplines, established a questionnaire sent to scientists around the world. From the review of collected answers, they deduced a list of key issues and provided several recommendations such as a maximal exploitation of currently available resources on Earth and in space, and to increase increments duration for some ISS crew members to 12 months or longer. These recommendations should contribute to improve our knowledge about spaceflight effects on the immune system and the development of countermeasures that, beyond astronauts, could have a societal impact.

Publication types

  • Review