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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Effect of SLS-2 spaceflight on immunologic parameters of rats.

During the Spacelab Life Sciences-2 mission, rats were dissected in space and biosamples were returned to Earth for analysis. Immunologic studies addressed the kinetics of T lymphocyte proliferative responses, cytotoxic activity of natural killer cells, and cytokine production. Experiments were performed by using spleen and bone marrow of rats dissected before flight, during flight, immediately after landing of the space shuttle (R + 0), or 14 days after landing (R + 14), as well as those of respective control animals. Each group consisted of five male Sprague-Dawley rats. It was demonstrated that T lymphocyte activity of rats dissected in flight was significantly decreased compared with the controls. This was observed during 48-, 72-, and 96-h cultivation and stimulation with the following mitogenic stimuli: concanavalin A (Con A; 0.1, 1.0, and 10.0 mg/ml), phytohemagglutinin (PHA; 2.5 mg/ml), and interleukin-2 (IL-2; 1 U/ml). The cell proliferation rate in rats dissected immediately after landing did not decrease, whereas that in rats dissected at R + 14 increased. The activity of spleen natural killer cells was reduced in response to 51Cr-labeled target cells during flight (YAC-1 and K-562) and after flight (YAC-1). At R + 14, their activity returned to normal. Another technique employed to measure natural cytotoxicity, using [3H]uridine-labeled target cells and ribonuclease, did not reveal any differences between control and experimental groups. In bone marrow, the activity of natural killer cells did not vary significantly. The production of IL-1, IL-2, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, and TNF-beta in spleen cell cultures of the flight rats was reduced. At R + 0, IL-1 and TNF-beta levels remained lowered, whereas TNF-alpha was increased. At R + 0, interferon-alpha and interferon-gamma levels were diminished. In summary, cell-mediated immunity in rats was significantly suppressed during flight. The time course variation of immune parameters after flight suggests that the changes may truly indicate a response of the immune system to spaceflight conditions that could increase over time.[1]


  1. Effect of SLS-2 spaceflight on immunologic parameters of rats. Lesnyak, A., Sonnenfeld, G., Avery, L., Konstantinova, I., Rykova, M., Meshkov, D., Orlova, T. J. Appl. Physiol. (1996) [Pubmed]
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