Specifically, researchers found that mice in low-gravity conditions experience changes in B lymphocyte production in their bone marrow similar to those observed in elderly mice living in the earth conditions.

"This study shows that a model of spaceflight conditions could not only be used to test the efficacy of molecules to improve immune responses following a spaceflight in astronauts but also in the elderly and bed-ridden populations on Earth," said Jean-Pol Frippiat, researcher from Lorraine University in Vandoeuvre-les-Nancy, France.

This model could also help understanding the aging of the immune system called immunosenescence, he said.Frippiat and colleagues used a ground-based model called hindlimb unloading (or HU), that simulates some of the effects of spaceflight on mice.

"Getting to Mars and beyond promises to be a huge task, requiring contributions from almost every scientific discipline," said Gerald Weissmann, editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal that published the paper.

"For biologists and medical researchers, knowing how altered gravity affect our immune system from challenges aloft can already be studied on Earth. Fortunately for biologists, it is not rocket science," he said.


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