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Sara Gredmark Russ group

The research in our group lies within the area of immunology, with the main focus on viruses and their interactions with the immune system.

Viral infections can cause a number of different acute and chronic conditions. The approaches to treat these conditions are limited, and for many viral infections, there are no alternatives at all. Our research focuses on advancing the knowledge in the basic principles of the immune response in natural infection in humans for viral infections, such as flavivirus (e.g.,tick borne encephalitis virus) and herpes virus.

We also strive to identify factors important for severe infection in certain individuals. We combine basic biochemistry with cellular immunology methods and apply these techniques on patient material.

Our long-term goal is, aside from gaining knowledge in the function of the human immune system, to contribute to the development of new approaches for diagnosis, treatment, and vaccination strategies for viral infections.

Keywords: infection, T cells, immunology, host response, virus


Sara Gredmark Russ, Group Leader, MD, PhD

Medical Doctor, Karolinska Institutet, 2001. PhD in Experimental medicine, Center for Molecular Medicine, KI, 2005, working in the area of immunology and virology. Post Doctoral fellow, in the laboratory of Hidde Ploegh, at the Whitehead Institute at MIT 2005-2008, working with immunology, biochemistry and virology. Currently Residency (ST-läkare) at the Infectious Disease Clinic at the Karolinska University Hospital.

Margit Lampen, Postdoc, PhD

Margit studied Medical Biotechnology at the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands. After obtaining her masters she started her PhD at the Leiden University Medical Center in the field of Tumor Immunology. In 2012 she defended her thesis about antigen presentation in MHC-I molecules, in processing deficient tumors. She now continues her academic career at Karolinska Institutet.


Characterization of the immune response during the natural course of TBEV infection

Tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) is the causative agent of tick-borne encephalitis (TBE). TBEV is a member of the flavivirus family, and is transferred to humans from ticks.

One major problem with TBE is the risk for long lasting sequele. TBE is an emerging disease and has become a growing health challenge in endemic parts, with as many cases as up to 10 000 per year. The only effective protection to TBE is properly timed vaccination against TBE, before exposure to ticks infected with TBEV. Despite the fact that vaccination against TBE is increasing in the exposed population in Sweden, also the numbers of patients suffering from TBE have been increasing over the last decade. In addition, over the last years a number of vaccine failures have been reported, and one also believe that a number of vaccine failures may have been overlooked due to difficulties in diagnosis, partly due to different antibody kinetics in this patient group.

Even though a large clinical problem, the underlying basis for the development of encephalitis in TBEV infection remains undefined, and there are only a few studies addressing the mechanism for disease development.

This project is focused on increasing our knowledge on the immune response in natural TBEV infection in humans. Aims in this project are to characterize the immune response during the natural course of TBEV infection and determine the associations between lymphocyte subtypes and the clinical outcome, identify CD8 specific TBEV epitopes and map the functional and phenotypic profile of epitope specific CD8 T cells, develop techniques to identify TBEV specific CD4 T cell epitopes during TBEV infection and map the CD4 specific response, and investigate the role of potential host factors important for the disease outcome through analysis of the cellular interferon response and signaling.

In these projects we will take advantage of advanced flow cytometry, and employ advanced techniques to create biochemical tools in order to answer our questions. Our overall goal is to gain insight in the immune response upon TBEV infection in humans, as well as identify factors important for severe infection in certain individuals, and translate these findings to improve diagnostic tools, vaccine strategies and treatment of patients.

Selected publications

NK Cell Responses to Human Tick-Borne Encephalitis Virus Infection.
Blom K, Braun M, Pakalniene J, Lunemann S, Enqvist M, Dailidyte L, et al
J. Immunol. 2016 10;197(7):2762-71

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

A gammaherpesvirus ubiquitin-specific protease is involved in the establishment of murine gammaherpesvirus 68 infection.
Gredmark-Russ S, Isaacson M, Kattenhorn L, Cheung E, Watson N, Ploegh H
J. Virol. 2009 Oct;83(20):10644-52

Active cytomegalovirus infection in aortic smooth muscle cells from patients with abdominal aortic aneurysm.
Gredmark-Russ S, Dzabic M, Rahbar A, Wanhainen A, Björck M, Larsson E, et al
J. Mol. Med. 2009 Apr;87(4):347-56

The CD8 T-cell response against murine gammaherpesvirus 68 is directed toward a broad repertoire of epitopes from both early and late antigens.
Gredmark-Russ S, Cheung E, Isaacson M, Ploegh H, Grotenbreg G
J. Virol. 2008 Dec;82(24):12205-12

Active cytomegalovirus replication in patients with coronary disease.
Gredmark S, Jonasson L, Van Gosliga D, Ernerudh J, Söderberg-Nauclér C
Scand. Cardiovasc. J. 2007 Aug;41(4):230-4

A functional ubiquitin-specific protease embedded in the large tegument protein (ORF64) of murine gammaherpesvirus 68 is active during the course of infection.
Gredmark S, Schlieker C, Quesada V, Spooner E, Ploegh H
J. Virol. 2007 Oct;81(19):10300-9

Human cytomegalovirus downregulates expression of receptors for platelet-derived growth factor by smooth muscle cells.
Gredmark S, Strååt K, Homman-Loudiyi M, Kannisto K, Söderberg-Nauclér C
J. Virol. 2007 May;81(10):5112-20

Human cytomegalovirus induces inhibition of macrophage differentiation by binding to human aminopeptidase N/CD13.
Gredmark S, Britt W, Xie X, Lindbom L, Söderberg-Nauclér C
J. Immunol. 2004 Oct;173(8):4897-907

Human cytomegalovirus inhibits cytokine-induced macrophage differentiation.
Gredmark S, Tilburgs T, Söderberg-Nauclér C
J. Virol. 2004 Oct;78(19):10378-89

Human cytomegalovirus inhibits differentiation of monocytes into dendritic cells with the consequence of depressed immunological functions.
Gredmark S, Söderberg-Nauclér C
J. Virol. 2003 Oct;77(20):10943-56

Open positions

We always want to get in touch with talented potential co-workers. If you are interested in doing research within our group, as a degree project or as a researcher, please contact the group leader Sara Gredmark Russ.