Space flight-induced reactivation of latent Epstein-Barr Virus

Raymond P. Stowe, Duane L. Pierson, Alan Barrett

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations


The majority of humans are infected with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) early in life and thereafter carry the virus in a latent form. Reactivation of latent EBV may be an important threat to crew health during extended space missions. EBV is the causative agent of infectious mononucleosis as well as nasopharyngeal carcinoma, Burkitt's lymphoma, and different kinds of B-lymphocyte lymphomas in immunosuppressed individuals. Control of replication in vivo is restricted primarily by cytotoxic T-lymphocytes, and severe clinical symptoms have been associated with reactivation of latent viruses in patients with defective cellular immunity. Decreased cellular immune function has been reported both during and after space flight. Preliminary studies have demonstrated increased EBV shedding in saliva as well as increased antibody titers to EBV lytic proteins. We hypothesize that the combined effects of microgravity along with associated physical and psychological stress will decrease EBV-specific T-cell immunity and reactivate latent EBV in infected B-lymphocytes. If increased virus production and clonal expansion of infected B-lymphocytes is detected, then pharmacological measures can be developed and instituted prior to onset of overt clinical disease. More importantly, we will begin to understand the basic mechanisms involved in stress-induced reactivation of EBV in circulating B-lymphocytes.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2001 Conference and Exhibit on International Space Station Utilization
StatePublished - 2001
Event2001 Conference and Exhibit on International Space Station Utilization - Cape Canaveral, FL, United States
Duration: Oct 15 2001Oct 18 2001


Other2001 Conference and Exhibit on International Space Station Utilization
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityCape Canaveral, FL

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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