In Nature Medicine: genes affect immunity in response to pathogens

Netea Mihai 2014

A study that is first in its kind and published in Nature Medicine has looked at how far genetic factors control the immune cell response to pathogens in healthy individuals. A team investigated the response of immune cells from 200 healthy volunteers when stimulated with a comprehensive list of pathogens ex vivo (outside the human body), and has correlated these responses with 4 million genetic variants (SNPs).

The study was performed by scientists from the Radboud University Medical Centre, University Medical Centre Groningen and Harvard Medical School (Boston, USA). From the Radboudumc are involved Mihai Netea (photo left) and Leo Joosten (photo below), Dept. of Internal Medicine, theme Infectious diseases and global health. 


The study focused on the role of cytokines, small peptides used by immune cells as signals to guide their response to an infectious agent. Blood samples were obtained from 200 participants in the Human Functional Genomics Project, which was initiated by Mihai Netea and Leo Joosten. Dept. of Internal Medicine and Prof. Cisca Wijmenga (UMCG). Immune cells were isolated from the blood and stimulated in the laboratory with ten different bacterial and fungal pathogens. The responses of eight different cytokines were measured after 24 hours and/or 7 days. Further quality filtering resulted in 62 different combinations. 

Article reference: Nature Medicine 

More information on the Human Functional Genomics Project: link




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