The effects of spaceflight on the infectious disease process have only been studied at the level of the host immune response and indicate a blunting of the immune mechanism in humans and animals. Accordingly, it is necessary to assess potential changes in microbial virulence associated with spaceflight which may impact the probability of in-flight infectious disease. In this study, we investigated the effect of altered gravitational vectors on Salmonella virulence in mice. Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium grown under modeled microgravity (MMG) were more virulent and were recovered in higher numbers from the murine spleen and liver following oral infection compared to organisms grown under normal gravity. Furthermore, MMG-grown salmonellae were more resistant to acid stress and macrophage killing and exhibited significant differences in protein synthesis than did normal- gravity-grown cells. Our results indicate that the environment created by simulated microgravity represents a novel environmental regulatory factor of Salmonella virulence.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases