Drug Abuse Research on GALT and HIV Pathogenesis
Funded by: National Institute on Drug Abuse
Project dates: July 2009 - June 2012
Principal Investigator: Markowitz M
Principal Investigator: Deren, Sherry (NYU Principal Investigator)

Studies of HIV infection in humans have demonstrated that CD4+ T cells within the gastrointestinal (GI) mucosa are targeted and depleted. (About 70% of the immune system in humans is located in the GI tract.) This part of the immune system is referred to as gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT). Studies in HIV-positive people have primarily been based on non drug-using populations of men who have sex with men. The study explored whether active injection drug use accelerates CD4+ T cell depletion in the GI tract using flexible sigmoidoscopy (a procedure to see inside the sigmoid colon and rectum) and biopsy. In addition, the role of behavioral risks (e.g., syringe sharing) was examined in terms of HIV disease progression. The study contributed to the understanding of injection drug use and its possible effects on CD4+ T cell depletion in the GI tract of HIV+ individuals. In addition, this integrated biomedical-behavioral research approach furthered the Center for Drug Use and HIV Research (CDUHR) aim of expanding interdisciplinary studies, and can serve as the basis for further collaborative efforts.

Related Publications
Mehandru S, Deren S, Kang SY, Banfield A, Garg A, Garmon D, LaMar M, Evering TH, Markowitz M (2015).
Behavioural, mucosal and systemic immune parameters in HIV-infected and uninfected injection drug users
Journal of Addiction Research and Therapy, 6 (4), 1000257. doi: 10.4172/2155-6105.1000257. PMCID: PMC4765000.