Spaceflight is an adverse environment characterized by a unique combination of stressors affecting almost all physiological systems, including the immune system. Indeed, several studies have shown that about 50% of the astronauts have faced immunological troubles. Here, we will review how spaceflight affects immune cell development, innate as well as adaptive immunity, required to ensure an efficient protection of the host, with a particular focus on T and B cells. Indeed, to better appreciate the risks associated to future long-duration space missions and to develop pharmacologic or nutritional countermeasures allowing immune system protection, it is mandatory to fully understand how these cell types are affected by space conditions. Finally, we will compare immune changes observed in astronauts with those encountered in the elderly, thereby illustrating the societal interest of space research.
Part of the book: Beyond LEO