Pediatric Pneumology Group

Pneumology Research

At the Laboratory of Pediatric Lung Research we are investigating the immunobiology of the epithelial cell of the airway and its interaction with respiratory viruses. To do so, we use an in vitro system based on nasal and bronchial epithelial cells isolated from healthy and diseased subjects. We are particularly interested in pathological situations such as cystic fibrosis (CF) and RSV pathogenesis.

Rhinovirus-associated morbidity in cystic fibrosis lung disease

CF lung disease is a monogenetic inherited disorder caused by the mutation of the CF transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene. The disease is characterized by chronic inflammation and bacterial infection of the lung leading to irreversible damage of the airway epithelium and early death. In addition to chronic bacterial infection, CF children are also affected by acute episodes of respiratory exacerbations often associated with Rhinovirus (RV) infection. The mechanisms of RV pathogenesis in CF children are so far poorly understood, and there are currently only few therapeutic options.
We have recently reported ex vivo and in vitro an increased susceptibility of CF children towards RV replication in comparison with healthy subjects. Currently we are dissecting the molecular mechanisms specific for CF leading to the impaired control of RV replication. In addition, we are testing new molecules with promising antiviral activity as a strategy to control replication of RV in the airway epithelium of CF patients. This work allowed us to successfully identified two novel drugs that may represent additional tools for clinicians for the prevention and/or treatment of RV-induced CF exacerbations.

Respiratory syncytial virus pathogenesis

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the leading cause of lower respiratory tract infection in infants and young children. It is the main cause of hospitalization of infants during winter time and responsible for respiratory illness spanning from rhinitis to life-threatening bronchiolitis. Currently there is no specific treatment available.
We have some ex vivo evidence that non-respiratory cells of the lung parenchyma may contribute to RSV pathogenesis. Thus, we investigate the response of these cells to RSV infection by analyzing the kinetics of virus replication and induction of inflammatory and antiviral mediators.