Role of interferon exposure in acquisition of HIV

28 February 2017

Dr Lyle McKinnon, a CAPRISA Research Associate, was recently awarded a grant from the Canadian Institutes for Health Re-search to investigate mucosal type I IFN desensiti-zation and the risk of HIV acquisition. The project is a collaboration between the University of Manitoba, University of Nairobi and CAPRISA and includes co-investigators Dr Tom Hope, Professor at North-western University; Dr Thomas Murooka, Associate Professor at University of Manitoba; and Steven Bosinger, Director of the Yerkes Functional Ge-nomics Team Emory University.

This study will investigate whether prolonged expression of type I interferons in the female repro-ductive tract increases HIV risk by impairing HIV target cells in their ability to upregulate antiviral in-terferon pathways, thereby increasing their ability to support HIV replication at the time of HIV exposure in the mucosa. This study will contribute to re-search regarding how the immune system is ex-ploited by HIV at the time of virus transmission and will provide information on the role of interferon ex-posure in acquisition of HIV. The research pro-duced by this study has the potential to provide a better understanding of HIV transmission and could have important implications on risk profiling in clini-cal interventions.