Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 29476184
Link to DOI – 10.1038/s41590-018-0049-7
Nat Immunol 2018 Mar; 19(3): 302-314
The quantification and characterization of circulating immune cells provide key indicators of human health and disease. To identify the relative effects of environmental and genetic factors on variation in the parameters of innate and adaptive immune cells in homeostatic conditions, we combined standardized flow cytometry of blood leukocytes and genome-wide DNA genotyping of 1,000 healthy, unrelated people of Western European ancestry. We found that smoking, together with age, sex and latent infection with cytomegalovirus, were the main non-genetic factors that affected variation in parameters of human immune cells. Genome-wide association studies of 166 immunophenotypes identified 15 loci that showed enrichment for disease-associated variants. Finally, we demonstrated that the parameters of innate cells were more strongly controlled by genetic variation than were those of adaptive cells, which were driven by mainly environmental exposure. Our data establish a resource that will generate new hypotheses in immunology and highlight the role of innate immunity in susceptibility to common autoimmune diseases.