The role of innate lymphoid cells in the gut to understand HIV pathology

Year of award: 2016


  • Dr Henrik Kløverpris

    University College London

Project summary

One important aspect of HIV infection is the direct impact on the gut. The gut barrier maintains separation between commensal bacteria and the host. HIV breaks down the ability of the gut to separate bacteria from entering the host. This results in activation of the immune system, which is the best predictor of time to AIDS. Even HIV patients under successful antiretroviral treatment have viral growth within their lymphoid organs and have elevated immune activation.

A component of the immune system, innate lymphoid cells (ILCs), has recently been discovered. ILCs are essential for the ability of the gut to prevent bacteria from entering the host system. We have shown that ILCs are eradicated from the blood of HIV-infected subjects during early stages of HIV infection.

The specific goal of this research is to understand the role of ILCs in the gut during HIV infection. I will use this information to understand the mechanism of gut break down and develop new treatment strategies to prevent AIDS.