Spaceflight alters the body’s immune system. Bed-rest studies with head-down tilt show a pattern similar to the results observed when humans are exposed to space. Previous bed-rest studies have shown changes in the immune system, yet all studies to date have been carried out on men. Dr. Gerald Sonnenfeld is conducting a bed-rest study of women to determine if participants experience suppression of immune responses and an enhanced susceptibility to infection. Additionally, Studies will be carried out to determine if countermeasures (exercise and diet supplementation) designed to deal with the negative effects of spaceflight on muscle have a positive or negative effect on the function of the immune system.
Bed Rest and Immunity
Gerald Sonnenfeld, Ph.D.
Binghamton University - State University of New York
The study is designed to determine the effects of bedrest on immune responses of women. The overall hypothesis to be tested is that maintenance of female subjects in the head-down tilt bed-rest model will result in suppression of functional immune responses and enhance susceptibility to infection.
By carrying out these studies, we will correlate the effects of bed rest on immune function and control of viral infections. The French bed-rest campaigns have been completed, and the results are under analysis at the present time.