WP4: Stress & Immune Function

WP 4 (leader: Dr. Chouker) focuses on the physical stress and hypoxia-sensitive responses during bedrest and/or hypoxia.  It will assess the hypoxia and bedrest impact on immune function and the oxygen-delivering haematological system, respectively. This integrative, experimentally controlled approach, utilises a battery of standard and innovative tools which will deliver i) new mechanistic insights into the complex interactions between psycho-neuroendocrine, metabolic and physical stress factors (hypoxia) on immunity and red blood cell proliferation in both the mobilised and immobilised (bed rest) healthy volunteer. ii) provide the critical understanding for measures to preserve or even restore adequate immunite function under such environmentally stressful conditions.


1: To determine whether a correlation exists between the perceived emotional stress and alterations in cognitive function inherently observed in an environment of confinement/ hypoxia/ bedrest are related to immune function.

2: To determine if the endocannbinoid system (ECS) is activated under such conditions and if so, interacts with the other stress responsive systems, including: the autonomic nerve system, (ANS), the glucocorticoid system (GS) and ultimately, if these alterations are associated with markers of immunological changes.

3: To determine the magnitude to which hypoxia can activate hypoxia-inducible immunosuppressive signalling pathways (HIF, purines), contributing to immune-modulating effects of stress and to what degree these alterations are accompanied by hematological changes (EPO).

4: To determine non-invasive immune changes via exhaled volatile immunological markers.

Images: immune cells of the human body.