Space as an extraordinary model of Stress research, the role of the ESA Topical Team

      During space flight human physiology and health are affected by complex environmental challenges which might be most pronounced by extended periods during interplanetary missions. Adequate immune response is crucial to maintain health. To our knowledge the influence of stressful conditions of psychological or physical nature can activate and/or paralyse humans’ innate or specific immunity. Previous findings from terrestrial studies as well as from pre -and post space-flight studies and first preliminary data from the ISS indicate a strong interaction between stress-associated, neural and endocrine mediators and the immune system. Moreover, this complex communication among immune cells is also mediated by the ANS, tissue hormones e.g. derived from the cells´ metabolism and other hormone-like substances altogether modulating the stress response. The ESA sponsored Topical Team has been working since 2007 to develop integrative theories and suggestions to open up a better understanding of stress - organ interactions with the goal to set -up new preventive or therapeutic strategies to protect from and to treat stress-associated immune and health alterations in space. According to the overall scopes, the TT aims to address and identify-in an interdisciplinary and more holistic approach-the role and impact of stressful conditions occurring in space or in future extra-terrestrial habitats. Also it will be reported how the Topical Team has pursued with other invited international experts the development of technical tools and approaches to help assessing the individual´s homeostasis under stressful condition, always keeping–beyond applications for space- also an application for Earth in the focus as well.
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