Natural variation in the parameters of innate immune cells is preferentially driven by genetic factors
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Sex, age, smoking, and genetics affect numbers and types of circulating immune cells, a research consortium has found.
The group, including researchers from Genentech, counted and assessed the activation state of innate (present in the body) and acquired (produced in response to a foreign substance) immune cells in, and sequenced the genomes of, 1,000 healthy adults. The data was compared with demographic variables.
They found men had, for example, a larger number of activated natural killer cells than women. And smokers had larger numbers of active T cells than non-smokers. They also detected a gene variation that affects the expression of a receptor on some types of monocytes. The presence of this receptor helps doctors decide whether septic shock patients could benefit from immune-stimulating therapies. The results indicate that genetic makeup should be considered during testing in these patients.
They also found other genetic variations in innate immune cells that can be linked to autoimmune diseases, which could provide insights into how the conditions develop.
- Nature Immunology 19, 302–314 (2018). doi: 10.1038/s41590-018-0049-7