The human immune system is highly variable between individuals but relatively stable over time within a given person. Recent conceptual and technological advances have enabled systems immunology analyses, which reveal the composition of immune cells and proteins in populations of healthy individuals. The range of variation and some specific influences that shape an individual's immune system is now becoming clearer. Human immune systems vary as a consequence of heritable and non-heritable influences, but symbiotic and pathogenic microbes and other non-heritable influences explain most of this variation. Understanding when and how such influences shape the human immune system is key for defining metrics of immunological health and understanding the risk of immune-mediated and infectious diseases.
At a glance
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