The antiorthostatic suspension model simulates certain physiological effects of spaceflight. We have previously reported BDF1 mice suspended by the tail in the antiorthostatic orientation for 4 days express high levels of resistance to virulent Listeria monocytogenes infection. In the present study, we examined whether the increased resistance to this organism correlates with profiles of macrophage activation, given the role of the macrophage in killing this pathogen in vivo. We infected BDF1 mice with a lethal dose of virulent L. monocytogenes on day 4 of antiorthostatic suspension and 24 h later constructed profiles of macrophage activation. Viable listeria could not be detected in mice suspended in the antiorthostatic orientation 24 h after infection. Flow cytometric analysis revealed the numbers of granulocytes and mononuclear phagocytes in the spleen of infected mice were not significantly altered as a result of antiorthostatic suspension. Splenocytes from antiorthostatically suspended infected mice produced increased titers of IL-1. Serum levels of neopterin, a nucleotide metabolite secreted by activated macrophages, were enhanced in mice infected during antiorthostatic suspension, but not in antiorthostatically suspended naive mice. Splenic macrophages from mice infected on day 4 of suspension produced enhanced levels of lysozyme. In contrast to the results from antiorthostatically suspended infected mice, macrophages from antiorthostatically suspended uninfected mice did not express enhanced bactericidal activities. The collective results indicate that antiorthostatic suspension can stimulate profiles of macrophage activation which correlate with increased resistance to infection by certain classes of pathogenic bacteria.

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