Congratulations to Dr. Suzi Hong!

Congratulations to Dr. Suzi Hong on her NIH/NIMH R21 titled, “Scrutinizing neuro-immune regulatory mechanisms underlying depressive symptomatology in young adults with HIV.”

This study proposes to conduct simultaneous investigations of potentially concurrent but disparate neuro-immune pathways (“NIP”) of inflammation dysregulation (IR) in predicting depressive symptoms in 45 YWH and 45 Control youth (aged 18-25 yrs), by leveraging an ongoing R01 study of brain function and cannabis use in YWH (DA047906). We will employ an ex vivo cellular model of peripheral blood monocytes by which effects of various receptor agonists in cellular IR will be assessed [1) sympatho-adrenal (SA)/adrenergic receptor (AR); 2) glucocorticoid (GC)/GC receptor (GR), and 3) dopaminergic (DA)/DR pathways] in predicting depressive symptoms (Aim 1). The neuroimaging markers of neuroinflammation from R01 [1) diffusion tensor imaging measures (e.g., fractional anisotropy), 2) structural alterations (i.e., white matter abnormality), and 3) metabolites through MR Spectroscopy (i.e., higher choline and myo-inositol, indicating diminished neuronal integrity and increased inflammation)] will be examined as a mediator (Aim 2). We will also explore differing depressive symptom domains [1) cognitive, 2) affective, and 3) somatic domains as well as 4) apathy and 5) anhedonia], as initial evidence shows symptoms specific to HIV infection such as somatic symptoms and apathy which may provide insight into delineating NIP- brain regions-symptoms network (Aim 3). Many types of the data collected in the R01 study will be shared with this R21 such as sociodemographic; clinical; psychological and behavioral; and neuroimaging data, maximizing the feasibility of this R21. Our simultaneous investigation of three NIP pathways with careful analytical plans in predicting depressive symptoms will provide an opportunity to gain mechanistic knowledge beyond plasma inflammatory marker-depression associations and to inform targeted therapeutic modalities.

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