Immunity and Infection


Inflammatory and Cardiovascular Disorders Programme

Group Leader

José Miguel López-Botet Arbona

The group integrates researchers from IMIM and Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) with extensive experience in the study of human Natural Killer (NK) cell biology. We currently collaborate on the development of two main research areas:

• Characterization of NK cell receptors and their involvement in the response to human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) (J. M. López-Botet). We originally reported that human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection promotes to a variable extent a persistent reconfiguration of the human NK cell compartment. We are currently exploring the mechanisms that drive the development of this adaptive NK cell response, addressing its involvement in antiviral defense and putative implications in different settings (e.g. kidney transplantation, cancer, multiple sclerosis), in collaboration with clinical teams.

• NK cells in cancer immunotherapy (A. Muntasell). NK cells can recognize and eliminate transformed cells while shaping the development of tumor-specific adaptive immunity. Several mechanisms decreasing NK cell function have been described in cancer patients. Our current projects are aimed at the identification of targetable checkpoints enhancing NK cell anti-tumor responses as well as at exploring the value of phenotypic, genetic and functional NK cell-related variables as biomarkers of response/resistance to treatment in breast and colorectal cancer patients, in collaboration with clinical teams.

 Research group


Elisenda Alari Pahissa (Researcher)

Ramón Gimeno Martínez (Researcher)

Aura Muntasell Castellví (Researcher)

Mireia Altadill Balsells (PhD Student)

Michelle Ataya Fernández (PhD Student)

Anna Rea (PhD Student)

Gemma Heredia Díaz (Technician)

Sara Raquel Santana Hernández (Technician)


Main PublicationsOngoing Research ProjectsParticipation in Research NetworksTheses 


Main Publications

• Muntasell A, Rojo F, Servitja S, Rubio-Pérez C, Cabo M, Tamborero D, Costa-García M, Martínez-García M, Menéndez S, Vázquez I, Lluch A, González-Pérez A, Rovira A, López-Botet M, Albanell J. NK Cell Infiltrates and HLA Class I Expression in Primary HER2+ Breast Cancer Predict and Uncouple Pathological Response and Disease-free Survival. Clin Cancer Res 2019; 25(5): 1535-1545. IF 8.911. Q1.

• Muntasell A, Servitja S, Cabo M, Bermejo B, Pérez-Buira S, Rojo F, Costa-García M, Arpí O, Moraru M, Serrano L, Tusquets I, Martínez MT, Heredia G, Vera A, Martínez-García M, Soria L, Comerma L, Santana-Hernández S, Eroles P, Rovira A, Vilches C, Lluch A, Albanell J, López-Botet M. High Numbers of Circulating CD57+ NK Cells Associate with Resistance to HER2-Specific Therapeutic Antibodies in HER2+ Primary Breast Cancer. Cancer Immunol Res 2019; 7(8): 1280-1292. IF 8.619. Q1.

• Deza G, March-Rodríguez A, Sánchez S, Ribas-Llauradó C, Soto D, Pujol RM, Gimeno R, Giménez-Arnau AM. Relevance of the Basophil High-Affinity IgE Receptor in Chronic Urticaria: Clinical Experience from a Tertiary Care Institution. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract 2019; 7(5): 1619-1626. IF 7.550. Q1.

• Costa-García M, Ataya M, Moraru M, Vilches C, López-Botet M, Muntasell A. Human Cytomegalovirus Antigen Presentation by HLA-DR+ NKG2C+ Adaptive NK Cells Specifically Activates Polyfunctional Effector Memory CD4+ T Lymphocytes. Front Immunol 2019; 10: 687. IF 4.716. Q2.

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Ongoing Research Projects

• Uncovering resistance to monoclonal antibodies in colorectal and breast cancer (J. Albanell, coordinator)

- Financing institution: Proyecto Integrado de Excelencia. ISCIII (PIE 2015/00008)

- Period: from 2015 to 2019

- Principal investigators: Muntasell, Aura; López-Botet Arbona, José Miguel

• Adaptive NK cell-mediated response to cytomegalovirus in the context of immunosuppression: clinical implications in renal transplantation

- Financing institution: Fundació La Marató de TV3 (201822-10)

- Period: from 2019 to 2021

- Principal investigator: López-Botet Arbona, José Miguel

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Participation in Research Networks

• Red Española de Esclerosis Múltiple (REEM)

- Financing institution: Fondo de Investigación Sanitaria-ISCIII. Subprograma RETICS. RD16/0015/0011

- Period: from 2017 to 2020

- Principal investigators: López-Botet Arbona, José Miguel; Martínez Rodríguez, José Enrique



• Cabo M. Role of NK cells in the efficacy of anti-HER2 therapeutic antibodies in breast cancer: from biomarkers to functional checkpoints enhancing ADCC responses. Universitat Pompeu Fabra

- Director: Muntasell Castellví, Aura

- Date of defense: 08/11/2019









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