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Widespread seasonal gene expression reveals annual differences in human immunity and physiology.

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Dopico, Xaquin Castro 
Evangelou, Marina 
Ferreira, Ricardo C 
Guo, Hui 
Pekalski, Marcin L 


Seasonal variations are rarely considered a contributing component to human tissue function or health, although many diseases and physiological process display annual periodicities. Here we find more than 4,000 protein-coding mRNAs in white blood cells and adipose tissue to have seasonal expression profiles, with inverted patterns observed between Europe and Oceania. We also find the cellular composition of blood to vary by season, and these changes, which differ between the United Kingdom and The Gambia, could explain the gene expression periodicity. With regards to tissue function, the immune system has a profound pro-inflammatory transcriptomic profile during European winter, with increased levels of soluble IL-6 receptor and C-reactive protein, risk biomarkers for cardiovascular, psychiatric and autoimmune diseases that have peak incidences in winter. Circannual rhythms thus require further exploration as contributors to various aspects of human physiology and disease.



ARNTL Transcription Factors, Adaptation, Physiological, Adipose Tissue, Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Child, Child, Preschool, Europe, Gambia, Gene Expression Regulation, Genes, MHC Class II, Humans, Infant, Infant, Newborn, Leukocytes, Middle Aged, Oceania, RNA, Messenger, Seasons, Transcriptome, Young Adult

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Nat Commun

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Wellcome Trust (089989/Z/09/Z)
Wellcome Trust (100140/Z/12/Z)
Wellcome Trust (091157/Z/10/B)
European Commission (241447)
Wellcome Trust (061858/Z/00/E)
The Gambian study providing data for analysis was supported by core funding MC-A760-5QX00 to the International Nutrition Group by the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) and the UK Department for the International Development (DFID) under the MRC/DFID Concordat agreement. This work was supported by the JDRF UK Centre for Diabetes-Genes, Autoimmunity and Prevention (D-GAP; 4-2007-1003), the JDRF (9-2011-253), the Wellcome Trust (WT061858/091157), the National Institute for Health Research Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre (CBRC) and the Medical Research Council (MRC) Cusrow Wadia Fund. The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union’s 7th Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013) under grant agreement no.241447 (NAIMIT). The Cambridge Institute for Medical Research (CIMR) is in receipt of a Wellcome Trust Strategic Award (WT100140). X.C.D. was a University of Cambridge/Wellcome Trust Infection and Immunity PhD student. R.C.F. is funded by a JDRF post-doctoral fellowship (3-2011-374). C.W. and H.G are funded by the Wellcome Trust (WT089989). The BABYDIET study was supported by grants from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG ZI-310/14-1 to-4), the JDRF (JDRF 17-2012-16 and 1-2006-665) and the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD e.V.). E.B. is supported by the DFG Research Center and Cluster of Excellence—Center for Regenerative Therapies Dresden (FZ 111).