Vulnerability and ageing
of the immune system
Our team is focusing on questions related to the causes of the immune competence deterioration during the course of adult life, and their consequences on human health. Besides chronological age, weakening of the immune system can result from clinical situations associated to an accelerated immune ageing such as infections, transplantation and cancer. Improving our comprehension of immune vulnerability and ageing mechanisms will impact our appreciation of immune responses in these contexts and provide cues for their control. This gain of knowledge is important in fundamental immunology but is also directly relevant to medicine and is a public health priority.
We are doing human basic and translational research. It involves patient cohort based studies and immunomonitoring in infectious, malignant, and transplantion contexts, to investigate the decline of immune competence due to chronological aging, chronic inflammation and immunosuppression. We concentrate on cellular (αβ and γδ T-cells) and humoral (B-cells) immunity in different settings: old age (>65y), persistent viral infections, cancer, and solid organ or hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. When necessary we use mice models of infections or cancer. We study the induction, efficacy and maintenance or loss of lymphocyte responses, from early immune compartments (i.e. hematopoietic stem cells and progenitors) to late memory cells owing to new technological advances (coupling multi-parametric flow cytometry, microculture approaches, single cell molecular profile analyses and antigen receptor repertoire analyses). This knowledge will be applied to the development of new therapies (e.g. drug targeting and vaccination), tailored to patients in settings of ‘compromised’ immunity.