Research / Scientific departments / Cellular Immunology and Immunogenetics

Cellular Immunology and Immunogenetics

Responsible for Unit : Prof. Jacques Thèze 
Institut Pasteur
25-28, rue du Docteur Roux
75724 Paris Cedex 15
Among the many cell types involved in the defense of the human body, CD4+ T lymphocytes are key regulators of all immune responses. In the majority of the patients, HIV infection progressively leads to a profound immune deficiency resulting from the dysfunction and ultimately the loss of these CD4+ T lymphocytes.
In healthy individuals, interleukins control the homeostasis and the mode of action of CD4+ T lymphocytes. Our Unit studies the cellular and molecular mechanisms of how Interleukin-7 (IL-7) controls the number of CD4+ T lymphocytes and how Interleukin-2 (IL-2) controls their mode of action during specific Immune responses.
To understand how the signals delivered to CD4+ T lymphocytes by interleukins are disrupted in HIV patients, we compare these lymphocytes to those from healthy volunteers. We study the intracellular relays of these signals by combining advanced biochemical and biophysical methods.
We also aim to understand how rare patients (HIV Controllers : less than 0.5% of HIV+ patients) maintain CD4+ T cell homeostasis and spontaneously control HIV replication in the absence of any treatment. We analyze mechanisms that spare the central memory CD4+ T lymphocyte compartment and allow efficient T cell responses in  HIV Controller patients, with the goal of designing new therapeutic strategies against HIV.
A clinical assay using interleukin-7 to restore a competent CD4+ T lymphocytes compartment in HIV patients treated with anti-retroviral drugs is planned with Centre Medical Necker - Pasteur.
Keywords : human immunology / CD4+ T lymphocytes / interleukin-2 / interleukin-7 / HIV immunopathology / HIV Controllers