Evidence Report: Risk of Adverse Health Effects Due to Host-Microorganism InteractionsWhile preventive measures limit the presence of many medically significant microorganisms during spaceflight missions, microbial infection of crewmembers cannot be completely prevented. Spaceflight experiments over the past 50 years have demonstrated a unique microbial response to spaceflight culture, although the mechanisms behind those responses and their operational relevance were unclear. In 2007, the operational importance of these microbial responses was emphasized as the results of an experiment aboard STS-115 demonstrated that the enteric pathogen Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium (S. Typhimurium) increased in virulence in a murine model of infection. The experiment was reproduced in 2008 aboard STS-123 confirming this finding. In response to these findings, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies recommended that NASA investigate this risk and its potential impact on the health of the crew during spaceflight. NASA assigned this risk to the Human Research Program. To better understand this risk, evidence has been collected and reported from both spaceflight analog systems and actual spaceflight including Mir, Space Shuttle, and ISS missions. Although the performance of virulence studies during spaceflight are challenging and often impractical, additional information has been and continues to be collected to better understand the risk to crew health. Still, the uncertainty concerning the extent and severity of these alterations in host-microorganism interactions is very large and requires more investigation as the focus of human spaceflight shifts to longer-duration exploration class missions.
Ott, C. Mark (NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Oubre, Cherie (Wyle Science, Technology and Engineering Group Houston, TX, United States)
Wallace, Sarah (NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Mehta, Satish (JES Tech Houston, TX, United States)
Pierson, Duane (NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)