Hans-Gustaf Ljunggren group

Our group has a long-standing interest in exploring the function of human NK cells in health and in different disease settings including viral infections and cancer.

Natural killer (NK) cells are innate immune cells with potent cytotoxic ability. Studies in our group involve phenotypic and functional characterization of NK cells in healthy humans as well as in humans in the context of primarily virus infections and cancer. A particular interest is focused towards the NK cell response to flavivirus infections, such as infections by Denguevirus, tick born encephalitis virus and hepatitis C virus. A focus is also directed towards Bunyavirus infections causing severe hemorrhagic fevers, including, e.g., hantaviruses. In the case of human cancer, we are interested in using NK cells in therapeutic settings, in particular in the context of treating malignancies such as myeloma, myelodysplastic syndromes and acute myeloid leukemia. Other diseases may also be subject to treatment trials in the future.

Keywords: NK cells, innate immunity, virus, cancer, hematology, immunotherapy

Financial support

  • Swedish Research Council
  • Swedish Cancer Society
  • Tobias Foundation
  • Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research
  • Karolinska Institutet

Recent publications

Critical Role of CD2 Co-stimulation in Adaptive Natural Killer Cell Responses Revealed in NKG2C-Deficient Humans.
Liu L, Landskron J, Ask E, Enqvist M, Sohlberg E, Traherne J, et al
Cell Rep 2016 May;15(5):1088-99

In vivo engineering of mobilized stem cell grafts with the immunomodulatory drug FTY720 for allogeneic transplantation.
Lakshmikanth T, Heuts F, Muvva S, Wallin R, Persson A, Fauriat C, et al
Eur. J. Immunol. 2016 Jul;46(7):1758-69

Emerging insights into natural killer cells in human peripheral tissues.
Björkström N, Ljunggren H, Michaëlsson J
Nat. Rev. Immunol. 2016 Apr;16(5):310-20

Naive Donor NK Cell Repertoires Associated with Less Leukemia Relapse after Allogeneic Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation.
Björklund A, Clancy T, Goodridge J, Béziat V, Schaffer M, Hovig E, et al
J. Immunol. 2016 Feb;196(3):1400-11

Tracing dynamic expansion of human NK-cell subsets by high-resolution analysis of KIR repertoires and cellular differentiation.
Béziat V, Traherne J, Malmberg J, Ivarsson M, Björkström N, Retière C, et al
Eur. J. Immunol. 2014 Jul;44(7):2192-6

Diversification and Functional Specialization of Human NK Cell Subsets.
Cichicki F, Schlums H, Theorell J, Tesi B, Miller J, Ljunggren H, et al
Curr. Top. Microbiol. Immunol. 2016 ;395():63-94

Polyclonal Expansion of NKG2C(+) NK Cells in TAP-Deficient Patients.
Béziat V, Sleiman M, Goodridge J, Kaarbø M, Liu L, Rollag H, et al
Front Immunol 2015 ;6():507

Next generation partnerships in translational science and medicine: Partnerships between academics, big pharma, biotech firms, philanthropists and patients look set to change the way science advances.
Ljunggren H, Chien K
EMBO Rep. 2015 Oct;16(10):1246-9

High-resolution determination of human immune cell signatures from fine-needle liver aspirates.
Hengst J, Theorell J, Deterding K, Potthoff A, Dettmer A, Ljunggren H, et al
Eur. J. Immunol. 2015 Jul;45(7):2154-7

Effects of HDV infection and pegylated interferon α treatment on the natural killer cell compartment in chronically infected individuals.
Lunemann S, Malone D, Grabowski J, Port K, Béziat V, Bremer B, et al
Gut 2015 Mar;64(3):469-82

Cytomegalovirus infection drives adaptive epigenetic diversification of NK cells with altered signaling and effector function.
Schlums H, Cichocki F, Tesi B, Theorell J, Beziat V, Holmes T, et al
Immunity 2015 Mar;42(3):443-56

Cutting edge: identification and characterization of human intrahepatic CD49a+ NK cells.
Marquardt N, Béziat V, Nyström S, Hengst J, Ivarsson M, Kekäläinen E, et al
J. Immunol. 2015 Mar;194(6):2467-71

Specificity and dynamics of effector and memory CD8 T cell responses in human tick-borne encephalitis virus infection.
Blom K, Braun M, Pakalniene J, Dailidyte L, Béziat V, Lampen M, et al
PLoS Pathog. 2015 Jan;11(1):e1004622

NK cell activation in human hantavirus infection explained by virus-induced IL-15/IL15Rα expression.
Braun M, Björkström N, Gupta S, Sundström K, Ahlm C, Klingström J, et al
PLoS Pathog. 2014 Nov;10(11):e1004521

Immunomodulatory activity of commonly used drugs on Fc-receptor-mediated human natural killer cell activation.
Theorell J, Gustavsson A, Tesi B, Sigmundsson K, Ljunggren H, Lundbäck T, et al
Cancer Immunol. Immunother. 2014 Jun;63(6):627-41

Academia and big pharma United.
Ljunggren H
Sci Transl Med 2014 Jan;6(217):217ed1

Immunomodulatory activity of commonly used drugs on Fc-receptor-mediated human natural killer cell activation.
Theorell J, Gustavsson A, Tesi B, Sigmundsson K, Ljunggren H, Lundbäck T, et al
Cancer Immunol. Immunother. 2014 Jun;63(6):627-41

Academia and big pharma United.
Ljunggren H
Sci Transl Med 2014 Jan;6(217):217ed1

Compromised function of natural killer cells in acute and chronic viral hepatitis.
Lunemann S, Malone D, Hengst J, Port K, Grabowski J, Deterding K, et al
J. Infect. Dis. 2014 May;209(9):1362-73

Hantavirus-infection confers resistance to cytotoxic lymphocyte-mediated apoptosis.
Gupta S, Braun M, Tischler N, Stoltz M, Sundström K, Björkström N, et al
PLoS Pathog. 2013 Mar;9(3):e1003272

Temporal dynamics of the primary human T cell response to yellow fever virus 17D as it matures from an effector- to a memory-type response.
Blom K, Braun M, Ivarsson M, Gonzalez V, Falconer K, Moll M, et al
J. Immunol. 2013 Mar;190(5):2150-8

Comparison of primary human cytotoxic T-cell and natural killer cell responses reveal similar molecular requirements for lytic granule exocytosis but differences in cytokine production.
Chiang S, Theorell J, Entesarian M, Meeths M, Mastafa M, Al-Herz W, et al
Blood 2013 Feb;121(8):1345-56

Hantavirus-infection confers resistance to cytotoxic lymphocyte-mediated apoptosis.
Gupta S, Braun M, Tischler N, Stoltz M, Sundström K, Björkström N, et al
PLoS Pathog. 2013 Mar;9(3):e1003272

Infectious Disease Medicine