Acute exposure to space flight results in evidence of reduced lymph Transport, tissue fluid Shifts, and immune alterations in the rat gastrointestinal system
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Space flight causes a number of alterations in physiological systems, changes in the immunological status of subjects, and altered interactions of the host to environmental stimuli. We studied the effect of space flight on the lymphatic system of the gastrointestinal tract which is responsible for lipid transport and immune surveillance which includes the host interaction with the gut microbiome. We found that there were signs of tissue damage present in the space flown animals that was lacking in ground controls (epithelial damage, crypt morphological changes, etc.). Additionally, morphology of the lymphatic vessels in the tissue suggested a collapsed state at time of harvest and there was a profound change in the retention of lipid in the villi of the ileum. Contrary to our assumptions there was a reduction in tissue fluid volume likely associated with other fluid shifts described. The reduction of tissue fluid volume in the colon and ileum is a likely contributing factor to the state of the lymphatic vessels and lipid transport issues observed. There were also associated changes in the number of MHC-II+ immune cells in the colon tissue, which along with reduced lymphatic competence would favor immune dysfunction in the tissue. These findings help expand our understanding of the effects of space flight on various organ systems. It also points out potential issues that have not been closely examined and have to potential for the need of countermeasure development.
author list (cited authors)
Cromer, W. E., & Zawieja, D. C.