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Santiago and Wilson Labs Awarded New NIH R01 Grant

Role of Type I IFNs in Mucosal HIV-1 Immunity and Pathogenesis
PIs: M. Santiago, C. Wilson
Funded by: NIH (NIAID)
Term of Grant: Five Years (7/1/2017-6/30/2022)
Total Funding: $2.75 Million.

What it’s about: The gut contains a very large amount of lymphoid tissue. It is a major site for early HIV-1 infection and CD4+ T cell depletion, and a critical compartment for the antiviral action of the type I interferons (IFN) that include the 12 IFNα subtypes and IFNβ. However, the initial IFN response may be suboptimal, as transmitted/founder (TF) HIV-1 strains still manage to break through. The project will test the hypothesis that the transition from a protective to a pathogenic role for type I interferons (IFNs) in HIV disease may be driven by translocating enteric microbes. It will investigate the role of type I IFNs in gut HIV-1 infection during the acute stage, at the onset of microbial translocation, and during the chronic stage. The goal is to achieve needed insights into how type I IFNs impact HIV-1 pathogenesis that may inform strategies to either harness these antiviral cytokines for curative strategies or block their immune effects to reduce chronic inflammation.