Microgravity Science and Technology

, Volume 19, Issue 5–6, pp 215–218 | Cite as

Reactivation of latent herpes viruses in cosmonauts during a soyuz taxi mission

  • Satish K. Mehta
  • Duane L. Pierson


The hypothesis tested by this project is that space flight increases the incidence and duration of herpes virus reactivation and shedding in saliva. Saliva, urine, and blood samples were collected from 3 crew members who participated in a 14-day Odessa Soyuz taxi mission. Saliva samples were collected before, during, and after the mission, and blood and urine were collected before and after the mission. The saliva and urine samples were analyzed using the polymerase chain reaction to detect the presence of 3 important herpes viruses. Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and varicella-zoster virus (VZV) were tested in saliva, and cytomegalovirus (CMV) was measured in urine samples. Plasma antibodies levels to these viruses were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay before and after flight. EBV reactivated before, during, and after flight; CMV reactivated before and after flight; and VZV reactivated during and after flight. In other studies, greater frequencies of positive samples and greater numbers of copies of viral DNA have been found. No increases in titer of antibodies to these viruses were found, suggesting that an immune response may not be necessary for reactivation.


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Copyright information

© Z-Tec Publishing, Bremen 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Satish K. Mehta
    • 1
  • Duane L. Pierson
    • 2
  1. 1.Enterprise Advisory Services, Inc.USA
  2. 2.NASA Johnson Space CenterHoustonUSA

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