Dr. Persidsky is chairperson of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the School of Medicine at Temple University. His research interests focus on neurocognitive disorders caused by HIV-1, alcohol and methamphetamine (METH).
Despite the introduction of antiretroviral therapy, prevalence of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) remains the same. One of the underlying causes of HAND is a chronic compromise of the blood brain barrier (BBB) due to HIV-driven neuroinflammation, leading to neuronal dysfunction. Our recent observations indicate that BBB compromise continues to exist even when viral replication in the central nervous system (CNS) is low due to pro-inflammatory factors present in the blood (like CD40 ligand or pro-inflammatory cytokines). Using a combination of in vitro functional assays (assessing BBB integrity and monocyte migration), signaling events leading to a pro-inflammatory phenotype of human brain endothelial cells and pericytes and a small animal model for chronic HIV-1 infection, Dr. Persidsky and his team study putative mechanisms of BBB dysfunction during HIV-1 infection, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as protective strategies including activation of cannabinoid type 2 receptors.