Human Immune System Variation during 1 Year

Cell Rep. 2020 Jul 21;32(3):107923. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2020.107923.


The human immune system varies extensively between individuals, but variation within individuals over time has not been well characterized. Systems-level analyses allow for simultaneous quantification of many interacting immune system components and the inference of global regulatory principles. Here, we present a longitudinal, systems-level analysis in 99 healthy adults 50 to 65 years of age and sampled every third month for 1 year. We describe the structure of interindividual variation and characterize extreme phenotypes along a principal curve. From coordinated measurement fluctuations, we infer relationships between 115 immune cell populations and 750 plasma proteins constituting the blood immune system. While most individuals have stable immune systems, the degree of longitudinal variability is an individual feature. The most variable individuals, in the absence of overt infections, exhibited differences in markers of metabolic health suggestive of a possible link between metabolic and immunologic homeostatic regulation.

Keywords: Computational Biology; Cytometry; Human Immunology; Immune Variation; Immunity; Mass cytometry; Plasma proteomics; Seasonal Variation; Systems Immunology.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Cell Count
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immune System / metabolism*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Seasons
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Time Factors


  • Biomarkers