HIV-1 Associated Neurodegeneration

Our lab has been investigating HIV-associated neurodegeneration since 2008, with seminal work on the molecular consequences of viral latency in the brain, which result in chronic neuroinflammation (Desplats et al. 2012 Neurology), followed by studying the role of BCL11B in sustaining latency and modulating inflammatory cascades using a new in vitro cellular system in human primary microglial cells infected with a dual HIV reporter vector, funded by the UCSD Center For AIDS Research (CFAR). Our research also included the investigation of the combined effects of methamphetamine dependence and HIV-1 infection on the host brain epigenome, through the analysis of genome-wide DNA methylation in postmortem human brain samples (Desplats et al. 2014 PLoS One) providing evidence of epigenetic deregulation that might explain neurocognitive alterations and neurodegeneration in this patients.