2004 NIP Award Recipient
The Effects of Gravitational Variation on Macrophage Phagocytic Function
Dr. Lillian Sau-ngan Waldbeser, Texas A&M University Corpus Christi
Prolonged exposure to the environmental conditions during space flights may influence the relationship that has been established between man and his endogenous microorganisms. It has been reported that organisms were transferred between crew members during space flights. The immune status of astronauts is very important if they are to remain relatively healthy during the missions. Macrophages are phagocytic cells whose major function is the removal of foreign material and dead, dying or damaged cells and cell debris from blood and tissues. They control inflammation and repair of damaged tissues. They also process and present antigens to lymphocytes, as well as secrete cytokines that amplify both cellular and humoral immune response. The objective of this project is to study the effects of gravitational changes on macrophage phagocytic function. The study will be conducted using tissue cultured human macrophage cells. The macrophages will be exposed to beads coated with bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS), immunoglobulin, and complement. The ability of the macrophages to phagocytize the coated beads will be studied under hypergravity and microgravity conditions, using phase contrast and fluorescence microscopy. The reactive oxygen intermediates will be measured to determine the respiratory burst associated with phagocytic function. Since the phagocytic function is dependent on cytoskeleton structure, the effect of gravitational conditions on actin rearrangement will be studied using fluorescence microscopy.
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