The role of dopamine in the development of NeuroHIV

Dr. Peter J. Gaskill is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacology & Physiology at the Drexel University College of Medicine.  His research focuses on how drugs of abuse interact with HIV infection.  Since many abused drugs produce increases in dopamine signaling in the brain, his laboratory is particularly interested in understanding how dopamine alters HIV infection.  Their findings show that dopamine makes macrophages more susceptible to infection by the HIV virus. Since macrophages are one of the primary targets of HIV in the CNS, HIV-infected macrophages are thought to be central to the development of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders.  Therefore, Dr. Gaskill’s laboratory has identified an important mechanism by which drugs of abuse, as well as clinically used drugs that alter dopamine signaling, could enhance HIV infection of macrophages and HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders.