Tuning of immune homeostasis and immune response by persistent viral infections
The immune response relies on the coordinated action of different cells of the immune system, which are constantly confronted with commensal microorganisms (microbiome) and with persistent viral infections (virome). In contrast to the microbiome, which has been shown to modulate the immune response, the virome received much less attention. This project therefore aims at assessing how the virome impacts the composition, properties and function of immune cells, in both humans and animal models.
In this project, we aim to understand to what extent chronic viral infections impact on the response to vaccines, on the susceptibility to infection, on the predisposition to autoimmunity and on the acceleration of immunological ageing. Three research and clinical centers located in Bellinzona, Lausanne, and Zurich will cooperate to reach this ambitious goal. They will take advantage of complementary expertise and resources to study well defined cohorts of patients with chronic viral infections using state-of-the-art analytical technologies such as multiparameter and mass-tag barcoding flow cytometry, single cell gene expression profiling, high throughput cellular screening methods and with next generation repertoire sequencing. Studies in mouse models of chronic infection will complement and synergize with the human studies. By combining the data obtained in the three centers this Sinergia project will give rise to the most comprehensive view of the impact of chronic viral infections on the homeostasis and the functionality of the immune system.