An NKG2A biased immune response confers protection for infection, autoimmune disease, and cancer.

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Res Sq


washington; isb; swedish


Infection, autoimmunity, and cancer are the principal human health challenges of the 21st century and major contributors to human death and disease. Often regarded as distinct ends of the immunological spectrum, recent studies have hinted there may be more overlap between these diseases than appears. For example, pathogenic inflammation has been demonstrated as conserved between infection and autoimmune settings. T resident memory (TRM) cells have been highlighted as beneficial for infection and cancer. However, these findings are limited by patient number and disease scope; exact immunological factors shared across disease remain elusive. Here, we integrate large-scale deeply clinically and biologically phenotyped human cohorts of 526 patients with infection, 162 with lupus, and 11,180 with cancer. We identify an NKG2A+ immune bias as associative with protection against disease severity, mortality, and autoimmune and post-acute chronic disease. We reveal that NKG2A+ CD8+ T cells correlate with reduced inflammation, increased humoral immunity, and resemble TRM cells. Our results suggest that an NKG2A+ bias is a pan-disease immunological factor of protection and thus supports recent suggestions that there is immunological overlap between infection, autoimmunity, and cancer. Our findings underscore the promotion of an NKG2A+ biased response as a putative therapeutic strategy.

Clinical Institute