Integrative systems biology reveals NKG2A-biased immune responses correlate with protection in infectious disease, autoimmune disease, and cancer.

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Publication Date


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Cell Rep


isb; swedish; washington


Infection, autoimmunity, and cancer are principal human health challenges of the 21st century. Often regarded as distinct ends of the immunological spectrum, recent studies hint at potential overlap between these diseases. For example, inflammation can be pathogenic in infection and autoimmunity. T resident memory (TRM) cells can be beneficial in infection and cancer. However, these findings are limited by size and scope; exact immunological factors shared across diseases 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/post-acute chronic disease. We reveal that NKG2A+ CD8+ T cells correlate with reduced inflammation and increased humoral immunity and that they resemble TRM cells. Our results suggest NKG2A+ biases as a cross-disease factor of protection, supporting suggestions of immunological overlap between infection, autoimmunity, and cancer.

Clinical Institute



Institute for Systems Biology


Infectious Diseases