Targeting Inflammasomes in Substance Abuse and HIV

Project: Research project

Project Details


ABSTRACT This application aims to investigate the impact of HIV brain infection and prescription opioids on ischemic stroke, a major co-morbidity in the infected population and opioid abusers. We recently identified that brain infection by HIV increases susceptibility to ischemic stroke, leading to reactivation of HIV. Importantly, this effect was associated with activation of the inflammasome. While the impact of opioids, such as morphine and oxycodone, on these events is unknown, we have evidence that chronic exposure to opioids can enhance tissue damage in ischemic stroke and activate the inflammasome. In line with these observations, the central hypothesis of the current grant is that HIV and prescription opioids activate inflammasome in the CNS that can worsen stroke outcome, including post-stroke HIV reactivation in the CNS and egress into the periphery. In Aim 1 of the proposed work, we will evaluate the mechanisms of inflammasome activation by HIV infection and prescription opioids. In Aim 2, we will therapeutically target mitochondria for protection against HIV and opioid-induced inflammasome activation, leading to improvement of stroke outcome and recovery. In Aim 3, we will study the impact of opioid-induced inflammasome activation on HIV reactivation in the CNS and egress into the periphery in ischemic stroke. Several conceptual, mechanistic, and technical aspects of this application are highly innovative. For example, the focus on the impact of HIV and prescription opioids on ischemic stroke outcome is an understudied area of research and constitutes a conceptual innovation of the proposal. Our findings that the inflammasome can be involved in HIV reactivation from brain reservoirs has never been reported before. In concert, Aims 1 and 2 will provide critical insight into the role of inflammasome in stroke development of HIV-infected patients who are opioid abusers. Aim 3 will provide important information on the reactivation of HIV from the brain and seeding into the periphery as the result of inflammasome activation in stroke. The proposed research is highly innovative because of its focus on novel mechanisms underlying vascular comorbidities, such as ischemic stroke, in the HIV-infected brain in the context of opioid abuse. These studies are also likely to identify new opportunities for therapeutic intervention.
Effective start/end date6/1/215/31/22


  • National Institute on Drug Abuse: $443,965.00


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