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In a joint study conducted by Louisiana State University and the University of Houston Abingdon Health’s Seralite®-FLC ELISA was used to assess the impact of long duration spaceflight on the function of blood plasma cells and therefore the functionality of the astronauts’ immune system during space travel.

Seralite®– FLC ELISA was used to measure free light chains (FLCs) in astronauts’ plasma and saliva using samples taken before, during and after spending 6 months in the International Space Station. FLCs were of interest to NASA because these proteins provide a near ‘real-time’ indicator of plasma cell activity.

The findings from the research were recently presented at ACSM Annual Meeting, Minneapolis, USA, on 29th May – 2nd June 2018 by Dr Guillaume Spielmann from Louisiana State University.

what's the impact of spaceflight on astronauts’ immune systemsOver many years of space travel, research has been carried out to understand the effects of space travel on the human body, in which time there have been associations made between dysregulation of the immune system and extended periods in space. The obvious concern of this is the effect on the astronaut’s health and the potential for missions to be compromised, in particular, future missions to Mars which are planned for the 2030’s.

The aim of the study

“The aim of this study was to characterize acute and chronic changes in polyclonal Free Light Chains (FLC) and in Immunoglobulin class switching, indicative of overall B-cell function, by retrospectively analyzing archived plasma samples collected during long-duration spaceflight studies.”*9

Conclusion

“Preliminary findings indicated that free light chains and whole immunoglobulin output from plasma cells are unaffected by long duration spaceflight, indicating that plasma cell immune competency is maintained in microgravity and risk of infection does not appear to be magnified.”*9

Dr John Campbell, from the University of Bath, who worked with Louisiana State University during this project comments:

“For some time now there has been speculation that changes to plasma cell activity arise during spaceflight. The use of Seralite FLC ELISA allowed us to sensitively monitor changes in plasma cell activity over time and our detailed analysis indicated that plasma cell activity is unchanged during spaceflight.”

Dr Guillaume Spielmann, added:

“Our results show that relatively short duration of spaceflight, of up to 6 months, might not be as damaging to the functionality of plasma cells as previously hypothesized. However, more research is now needed to determine whether longer duration spaceflight – for example, over many years – has any effect on immunity so that we can have confidence that the immune system is not compromised in future manned missions to Mars.”

CE marketing of free light chain testing elisaSeralite®– FLC ELISA

The Abingdon Health Seralite®– FLC ELISA kit contains two immunoassays in 2 x 96-well microplate format for the analysis of biological specimens including plasma, urine, saliva and CSF for the highly sensitive quantification of kappa-FLC and lambda-FLC.

*References can be located on our Seralite®-FLC ELISA webpage.