Karin Loré group

Our group has an ultimate goal to expand the on-going efforts to develop a new generation of vaccines against global epidemics such as HIV-1, malaria, tuberculosis and Influenza.

We have had a long term focus on central questions in vaccinology related to understanding the mechanisms by which vaccine antigen, adjuvants and viral vaccine vectors influence innate immunity for the induction of strong T cell and B cell responses.

A central element in our research is investigating dendritic cells (DCs). They provide the link between the innate response in the periphery and the development of T and B cells responses and their involvement is therefore likely critical to the success of a vaccine.

What occurs between the administration of a vaccine and the development of the immune response is largely unclear. With a better understanding of how the immune system interacts with vaccines we would be better positioned to select formulations that can elicit stronger immunity, be used at lower doses or with fewer immunizations and are not associated with side effects. We have developed physiologically relevant experimental in vitro systems using human primary blood and skin DCs.

In addition, we characterize the early innate immune responses directly after vaccine administration in vivo in animal models. Our strategy is to operate at a powerful infrastructure and leverage our current expertise towards a translational research profile aided by our network of strong collaborators and availability to novel reagents and vaccine candidates on a clinical path.

Keywords: dendritic cells, vaccine, adjuvants, HIV-1, immunology, T-cells


Jose Delao, Frank Liang, Gustaf Lindgren, Karin Loré and Liz Thompson.

Karin Loré, Group Leader, PhD, Associate Professor

Karin did her undergraduate studies in molecular biology and microbiology at Karolinska Institutet. She received her PhD in Immunology in 2001 and thereafter did post doctoral training at the Vaccine Research Center, NIH, Bethesda, MD, USA. She returned to the Karolinska 2006 supported by an Assistant professor salary grant (foass-tjänst) from Vetenskapsrådet. She received her Associate Professorship (Docent) in 2010. From 2011, Karin also holds a visiting scientist position at the Vaccine Research Center, NIH.

Phone: 070-424 4196 or +1 301 451 2719.

Kerrie Sandgren, PhD, post doctoral fellow

Kerrie did her undergraduate studies in microbiology and immunology at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia and received her PhD from there in 2008. She joined our group as a post doctoral fellow in 2009. Kerrie is the recipient of a postdoctoral fellowship from the Swedish Society of Medical Research (SSMF). Her current studies are performed in collaboration with the Centre for Virus Research, Westmead Milllennium Institute, Sydney, Australia.

Phone: 08-524 869 43

Frank Liang, PhD-student

Frank received a Master of Medical Science in Biomedicine from Karolinska Institutet in 2009. He is the recipient of KID PhD student funding and has been a PhD student in our group since 2010. Frank is currently performing a part of his PhD project at the Vaccine Research Center, NIH, Bethesda, MD, USA.

Phone: +1 301 827 9403

Elizabeth Thompson, PhD student

Liz did her undergraduate studies in biology at Brown University, Providence, RI, USA. She is a Post Baccalaureate Intramural Research Training Award Fellow at the Vaccine Research Center, NIH, and was selected for a KID PhD student funded position to pursue her PhD studies.

Phone: +1 301 827 9403

Gustaf Lindgren, MD/PhD student

Gustaf is in his final year of medical school and is an awardee of funding from the Clinical Scientist Training Programme (CSTP), Karolinska Institutet, to pursue his PhD studies. He has been working with us since 2012 and he is performing a part of his project at the Vaccine Research Center, NIH, Bethesda, MD, USA.

Jose Delao Hernandez, Research scholar

Jose did his undergraduate studies in biology at the University of District of Columbia, Washington DC, USA. He has been a research scholar in our group since 2012 and is the recipient of a Marc U-Star Honor Scholarship.

Affiliated members and Alumni

William Adams, PhD, post doctoral fellow

Will did his undergraduate studies in biology at Bates College, Lewiston, ME, USA. He was a Post Baccalaureate Intramural Research Training Award Fellow at the Vaccine Research Center, NIH, before he became a PhD student in our group at Karolinska Institutet 2007. Will was the recipient of KID PhD student funding. He received his PhD in 2011. The title of his thesis was: Regulation of human dendritic cells and T cells by Adenovirus types 5 and 35: Implications for vaccine design. Will is currently doing his post doctoral training in Professor Steven Reiners laboratory at Columbia University, NYC, NY.

Phone: 08-524 869 43

Cornelia Gujer, PhD

Cornelia did her undergraduate studies in biology at the University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland. She became a PhD student in our group in 2006 through an International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) funded project. Cornelia received her PhD in 2011. The title of her thesis was: Regulation of B cell function by plasmacytoid dendritic cells. Cornelia is currently a post doctoral fellow in Professor Christian Münzs laboratory at the University of Zurich.

Emily Bond, MD, PhD-student

Emily received her MD from Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden. She received her medical license as a physician in 2006. She thereafter worked on her PhD studies in our group and was the recipient of KID PhD student funding. She received her PhD in 2012. The title of her thesis was: Studies of Human Dendritic Cells in the Skin after Antigen Exposure. Emily is currently doing a clinical fellowship and is affiliated to our group through ongoing collaborations.

Phone: 08-524 869 43


1. Modulation of dendritic cells for the induction of HIV-1-specific immunity

The overall rationale of this work is to expand on-going efforts to develop a preventative HIV-1 vaccine. The project focuses on central questions in vaccine development related to specific targeting of 1) HIV-1 antigens and 2) adjuvant components to distinct subsets of primary human dendritic cells (DCs) in order to improve antigen delivery and activation of such cells for the induction of strong adaptive immunity.

The specific aims are:

  1. To evaluate pathways for uptake and processing of HIV-1 envelope (Env) glycoprotein by DCs.
  2. To characterize immuno-modulatory effects caused by HIV-1 Env.
  3. To evaluate the benefit of using Env conjugated to immuno-stimulatory compounds such as selected Toll-like receptor (TLR) ligands for DC functions.

DCs are essential for stimulation of primary antigen-specific CD4+ T helper cells which in turn are critical for regulating both cellular and humoral immune responses. Understanding the functional patterns of the various distinct DC subtypes and the importance of providing both or either of them with antigen and activation signals to optimize vaccine-induced responses is central. An important originality of our studies is that we use physiologically relevant systems including freshly isolated DC subsets from blood and skin and not in vitro-derived surrogates. This work will hopefully guide the choice of antigen, adjuvant and administration of future HIV-1 vaccines to be tested in non-human primate and clinical studies.

Financial funding:

  • Vetenskapsrådet
  • The Swedish Society of Medicine to Karin Loré.

Main collaborators: 

  • Associate Professor Gunilla Karlsson-Hedestam and Assistant professor Anna Smed Sörensen, MTC/KI
  • Investigator Richard T. Wyatt
  • Scripps Research Institute, IAVI, La Jolla, CA.

2. Approaches to enhance and broaden B cell responses against HIV-1 Env

The main goal of this proposal is to design and evaluate improved HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein (Env) immunogens to enhance and broaden B cell responses and neutralizing antibodies against HIV-1. We will investigate the impactof the high affinity interaction between Env and primate CD4, which may compromise exposure of the conserved CD4 binding site during vaccination. Since CD4 is a signaling receptor, Env interactions with CD4-expressing primary cells during immunization may affect the function of such cells and this will be addressed. To meet these goals CD4-binding defective soluble Env trimers will be generated and evaluated in vitro and in vivo. We will use new methodology to investigate the evolution of Env-specific memory B cell and plasma cell responses in non-human primates to gain new insights into the quality of B cell responses elicited by state-of-the-art Env immunogens.

Financial funding:

  • Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) to Associate Professor Gunilla Karlsson-Hedestam, MTC/KI and Karin Loré.

Main collaborators:

  • Gunilla Karlsson-Hedestam
  • Investigators Richard T. Wyatt
  • Scripps Research Institute, IAVI, La Jolla, CA
  • John Mascola, Vaccine Research Center, NIH, Bethesda, MD

3. Early in vivo events of vaccine-induced immune responses

When evaluating vaccines, it is common practice to focus on the ultimate outcomes - the elicitation of antibodies (abs) and T cell responses and protection from infection. What occurs between the administration of a vaccine (most often an intramuscular injection) and the development of an immune response is not clear. In this project we aim to characterize and compare the early effects after administration using well-defined and widely used antigen/adjuvant vaccine formulations at the site of injection (muscle) and try to define mechanisms as to why some adjuvants stimulate more powerful immune responses than others. We believe that such data can make a significant contribution to the understanding of how vaccine-induced responses are developed and regulated and thus this can help the design of new vaccine formulations to improve immunity.

Financial funding:

  • Vinnova and EU Marie Curie grant to Karin Loré.

Parts of the project are performed at the Vaccine Research Center, NIH, Bethesda, MD, USA.

Main collaborators: 

  • NIH investigators Robert Seder
  • Richard Koup
  • Novartis

4. Defects in human dendritic cell subsets during HIV-1 infection

The ultimate question to be addressed in this study is whether dendritic cells (DCs), which are central in their function to regulate immune responses, are depleted and/or dysfunctional in HIV-1+ individuals.

Specifically, we are studying recruitment in situ of distinct human DC subsets to the skin shortly after intradermal antigen exposure. As a model to examine the functional pattern of DCs in a local immune response in the skin, we are utilizing skin punch biopsies taken after PPD (purified protein derivate) or saline injections in clinically well-defined healthy seronegative and HIV-1+ cohorts with documented positive PPD reactions.

Specific questions are:

  1. Do various DC subsets infiltrate the skin after PPD delivery?
  2. Are there marked differences between HIV-1+ and healthy individuals in terms of magnitude of recruitment and phenotypes of DCs in the skin after PPD injection?
  3. Are DC-related effector functions e.g. production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and IFN-alpha in response to PPD injection deficient in HIV-1 infection?

Financial funding:

  • Läkare mot AIDS forskningsfond to Karin Loré.

Main collaborators:

  • Professor Jan Andersson, KI
  • Professor Robert J. Wilkinson, Clinical Infectious Diseases Research Initiative, Institute of Infectious Diseases and Molecular Medicine, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
  • MRC National Institute for Medical Research, Mill Hill, London, UK, Division of Medicine, Imperial College, W2 1PG London, UK.

Selected publications

Human plasmacytoid dendritic cells efficiently capture HIV-1 envelope glycoproteins via CD4 for antigen presentation.
Sandgren K, Smed-Sörensen A, Forsell M, Soldemo M, Adams W, Liang F, et al
J. Immunol. 2013 Jul;191(1):60-9

Dendritic cell recruitment in response to skin antigen tests in HIV-1-infected individuals correlates with the level of T-cell infiltration.
Liang F, Bond E, Sandgren K, Smed-Sörensen A, Rangaka M, Lange C, et al
AIDS 2013 Apr;27(7):1071-80

Plasmacytoid dendritic cells infiltrate the skin in positive tuberculin skin test indurations.
Bond E, Liang F, Sandgren K, Smed-Sörensen A, Bergman P, Brighenti S, et al
J. Invest. Dermatol. 2012 Jan;132(1):114-23

Attenuation of CD4+ T-cell function by human adenovirus type 35 is mediated by the knob protein.
Adams W, Berenson R, Karlsson Hedestam G, Lieber A, Koup R, Loré K
J. Gen. Virol. 2012 Jun;93(Pt 6):1339-44

Adenovirus type-35 vectors block human CD4+ T-cell activation via CD46 ligation.
Adams W, Gujer C, McInerney G, Gall J, Petrovas C, Karlsson Hedestam G, et al
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2011 May;108(18):7499-504

Dendritic cells at the interface of innate and adaptive immunity to HIV-1.
Smed-Sörensen A, Loré K
Curr Opin HIV AIDS 2011 Sep;6(5):405-10

IFN-α produced by human plasmacytoid dendritic cells enhances T cell-dependent naïve B cell differentiation.
Gujer C, Sandgren K, Douagi I, Adams W, Sundling C, Smed-Sörensen A, et al
J. Leukoc. Biol. 2011 Jun;89(6):811-21

Immunization with wild-type or CD4-binding-defective HIV-1 Env trimers reduces viremia equivalently following heterologous challenge with simian-human immunodeficiency virus.
Sundling C, O'Dell S, Douagi I, Forsell M, Mörner A, Loré K, et al
J. Virol. 2010 Sep;84(18):9086-95

Soluble HIV-1 Env trimers in adjuvant elicit potent and diverse functional B cell responses in primates.
Sundling C, Forsell M, O'Dell S, Feng Y, Chakrabarti B, Rao S, et al
J. Exp. Med. 2010 Aug;207(9):2003-17

Novel adjuvants for B cell immune responses.
Loré K, Karlsson Hedestam G
Curr Opin HIV AIDS 2009 Sep;4(5):441-6

Influence of novel CD4 binding-defective HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein immunogens on neutralizing antibody and T-cell responses in nonhuman primates.
Douagi I, Forsell M, Sundling C, O'Dell S, Feng Y, Dosenovic P, et al
J. Virol. 2010 Feb;84(4):1683-95

Adenovirus serotype 5 infects human dendritic cells via a coxsackievirus-adenovirus receptor-independent receptor pathway mediated by lactoferrin and DC-SIGN.
Adams W, Bond E, Havenga M, Holterman L, Goudsmit J, Karlsson Hedestam G, et al
J. Gen. Virol. 2009 Jul;90(Pt 7):1600-10

Human B cell responses to TLR ligands are differentially modulated by myeloid and plasmacytoid dendritic cells.
Douagi I, Gujer C, Sundling C, Adams W, Smed-Sörensen A, Seder R, et al
J. Immunol. 2009 Feb;182(4):1991-2001

Myeloid and plasmacytoid dendritic cells are susceptible to recombinant adenovirus vectors and stimulate polyfunctional memory T cell responses.
Loré K, Adams W, Havenga M, Precopio M, Holterman L, Goudsmit J, et al
J. Immunol. 2007 Aug;179(3):1721-9

Open positions

We are always interested to get in touch with talented potential co-workers. If you are interested in doing research within our group, as a post-doc, PhD student or degree project student, please contact the group leader Karin Loré.

Postdoctoral research fellow in immunology/vaccinology

A postdoctoral researcher position is available to study vaccine induced immune responses. The overall focus of the project is to investigate innate mechanisms by which distinct vaccine adjuvants regulate immunity. Our group uses a variety of experimental approaches, including isolation of primary human dendritic cell subsets from blood and tissues, multicolor flow cytometry, confocal imaging of single cells and cryosections as well as gene expression techniques. The studies will employ human biopsy material and/or animal models for investigation of vaccine delivery efficacy and inflammatory responses.

Highly motivated individuals with either a Ph.D. or a qualification deemed equivalent to a doctorate are encouraged to apply. Experience in cell culture and flow cytometry is required. Experience with imaging is preferred. Experience with animal models is a plus, but not a requirement.

The position will be based at the Center for Infectious Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden. A period of the project will be performed in the laboratory of our collaborators at the Vaccine Research Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA. We work in close collaboration with vaccine companies such as Novartis. Thus, the successful candidate will have the opportunity to interact with and learn various scientific and technical expertises from a dynamic team of leading researchers in the field.

The position is available immediately. Initial appointment will be for 12 months and thereafter renewed.

Interested candidates should send a letter stating their research accomplishments and interests, CV, and contact information for references to Associate professor Karin Loré:


Karin Loré webpage

Infectious Disease Medicine