Influenza, Immunity and Metabolism

Head of Team

François Trottein


Despite the availability of various vaccines and antimicrobial drugs, viral and bacterial respiratory infections are responsible for high levels of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Ageing and co-morbidities (including chronic metabolic diseases) worsen the outcomes of respiratory infections. Our research group is focusing on two major respiratory pathogens: the influenza A virus and Pneumococcus. Most recently, we initiated a novel program on SARS-CoV-2, the aetiologic agent of COVID-19. Our general objectives are to

(I) Identify early antiviral and antibacterial defence mechanisms,

(II) Define age- and comorbidity-associated factors that predispose to respiratory infections,

(III) Develop new strategies for reinforcing the host’s defence against respiratory pathogens.

Our group also has a strong focus on the gut microbiota, which is known to be critical in human health and illness, and on adipose tissue, recently described to play a part during infection. We expect that a better understanding of the gut/lung/adipose tissue axis will be instrumental in conceiving novel treatment options for patients.

Received his PhD degree in 1992 from the University of Lille. Between 1986 and 1994, he studied helminth and protozoan parasites with the aim to improve vaccine efficacy (1986-1992) and to better understand mechanisms leading to drug resistance (1992-1994). He did a post-doc between 1992 and 1994 at the Walter and ELIZA Hall Institute, Royal Melbourne Hospital. In 1995, he obtained a tenure position at CNRS and he started to develop his own group in France, at the Institut Pasteur de Lille. Since 1995, François Trottein has been working on host/pathogen (parasites, bacteria, viruses) interactions; the objectives being to better understand escape mechanisms to immune responses and to exploit the innate immune system for designing novel therapeutic approaches. He has made major contribution in the field of innate immunity and lipids, either eicosanoids and antigenic lipids. For the later, he described the role (either beneficial or deleterious) of Natural Killer T cells, a population of lipid-reactive T cells, during infection. Since 2010, his group is developing research projects on respiratory infections and more precisely on influenza A virus (flu) and Streptococcus pneumoniae, the leading cause of bacterial pneumonia in humans.