Assistant Professor
Division of Infectious Diseases

Project title: Mucosal Innate Immunity and Pathogenesis of HIV-1 Transmission

Otto Yang, MD – UCLA
Peter Anton, MD – UCLA

Multidisciplinary Expertise:
Infectious diseases, mucosal immunology, innate immunity

Project Description:
Mucosal HIV-1 transmission accounts for the majority of new HIV infections, yet is a poorly understood event. Risk of HIV acquisition varies, and there are individuals who remain uninfected despite repeated high-risk exposures, termed HIV-exposed seronegative (HESN). It is known that immune activation and inflammation can facilitate HIV-1 mucosal transmission, therefore, we hypothesized that altered immune reactivity may contribute to differences in HIV susceptibility. To test this, the susceptibility and reactivity of the mucosal innate immune system will be assessed in HESN compared to healthy control individuals using ex vivo infectibility assays with freshly-acquired mucosal biopsies, examination of mucosal immune responses to defined stimuli, and characterization of innate immune cell types in these tissues. Collectively these data will help define the influence of innate immune stimulation on HIV-1 infection and replication, which could lead to new targets for prevention therapeutics.