In 1997, Professor Eric Vivier set up a laboratory specialised in the functional exploration of NK lymphocytes in Conception Hospital in Marseille. It thus contributes to the exploration of NK cells, and more generally of innate immune cells, in connection with specialised biology examinations as well as clinical research protocols.

Specialized biology

The laboratory has established standard physical (phenotypical) and functional (cytotoxic activity, production of cytokines) values of NK lymphocytes from cells freshly prepared from peripheral blood and provides this battery of tests to clinicians (Head N. Schleinitz, internal medicine ward - JR Harlé).

Clinical research protocols

Clinical research activity is organised in three programmes.

Programme 1: exploration of primitive NK immune deficit
(joint project JL Casanova, Necker, Paris)

The aim of this first programme is to characterise the deficits (quantitative or qualitative) selectively affecting the NK cells. These so-called NK selective deficits are extremely rare, since few cases have been described in the literature, and some were recently challenged. The laboratory strives to identify the genetic anomalies implicated and other familial cases of NK deficit.

Programme 2: exploration of innate immunity in inflammatory and auto-immune pathologies in adults
(joint project internal medicine ward, JR Harlé, N. Schleinitz, G. Kaplanski, L. Chiche, Marseille)

This programme is aimed at a closer understanding of the potential implication of NK cells in certain auto-immune/inflammatory pathologies, constituting a significant share of the activity of the hospital’s clinical wards. The pathologies implicated are Macrophage Activation Syndrome (MAS), a syndrome found in a multitude of clinical situations (infectiology, onco-haematology, systemic diseases and intensive care) and also thrombocytopenic purpura, hyper IgG4 syndrome and lupus.

Programme 3: exploration of innate immunity during viral infections

This third programme is aimed to analyse the still little understood basis of the implication of NK cells in viral infections such as influenza (participation in the COPANFLU national programme) and cytomegalovirus (CMV, in collaboration with the intensive care ward, JM Forel, L. Chiche, L. Papazian, Marseille).