Distinctive roles of age, sex, and genetics in shaping transcriptional variation of human immune responses to microbial challenges
Identifying the drivers of the interindividual diversity of the human immune system is crucial to understand their consequences on immune-mediated diseases. By examining the transcriptional responses of 1,000 individuals to various microbial challenges, we show that age and sex influence the expression of many immune-related genes, but their effects are overall moderate, whereas genetic factors affect a smaller gene set but with a stronger effect. We identify numerous genetic variants that affect transcriptional variation on infection, many of which are associated with autoimmune or inflammatory disorders. These results enable additional exploration of the role of regulatory variants in the pathogenesis of immune-related diseases and improve our understanding of the respective effects of age, sex, and genetics on immune response variation.