520-d Isolation and confinement simulating a flight to Mars reveals heightened immune responses and alterations of leukocyte phenotype

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • B. Yi
  • M. Rykova
  • M. Feuerecker
  • B. Jäger
  • C. Ladinig
  • M. Basner
  • M. Hörl
  • S. Matzel
  • I. Kaufmann
  • C. Strewe
  • I. Nichiporuk
  • G. Vassilieva
  • K. Rinas
  • Sarah Baatout
  • G. Schelling
  • G. Thiel
  • D.F. Dinges
  • B. Morukov
  • A. Choukèr

Institutes & Expert groups

Documents & links


During interplanetary exploration, chronic stress caused by long term isolation and confinement in the spacecraft is one of the major concerns of physical and psychological health of space travelers. And for human on Earth, more and more people live in an isolated condition, which has become a common social problem in modern western society. Collective evidences have indicated prolonged chronic stress could bring big influence to human immune function, which may lead to a variety of health problems. However, to what extent long-term isolation can affect the immune system still remains largely unknow. A simulated 520-d Mars mission provided an extraordinary chance to study the effect of prolonged isolation. Six healthy males participated in this mission and their active neuroendocrine and immune conditions were studied with saliva and blood samples from all participants on chosen time points during the isolation period. As a typical neuroendocrine parameter, stress hormone cortisol was measured in the morning saliva samples. The results of this study revealed elevated cortisol levels, increased lymphocyte amount and heightened immune responses, suggesting that prolonged isolation acting as chronic stressors are able to trigger leukocyte phenotype changes and poorly controlled immune responses.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-210
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2015


  • Chronic stress, inflammation, lymphocyte, cortisol

ID: 207232