Jared was invited to present his research this month as a part of the 2021-2022 Joint National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) center seminar series! Jared discussed his most recent work in a talk titled: Examining how CXCL12 affects structural plasticity and cortical network function. The seminar series is organized by the NIMH administrative core at Johns Hopkins University, who also host previous talks from the series on their website.
Dr. Meucci and her former student Dr. Lindsay Festa collaborated with Dr. Gaskill and his former student Dr. Emily Nickoloff on a new review article discussing how HIV co-receptor signaling can contribute to HIV pathogenesis. The review article starts with a primer on HIV pathogenesis and the chemokine co-receptors that HIV uses to infect cells, and then thoroughly explores the signaling pathways downstream of HIV-activated co-receptors and how these pathways can contribute to HIV neuropathogenesis. The article ends with a discussion of treatment strategies based on targeting HIV co-receptors and their downstream signaling pathways.
The article is titled “Co-receptor signaling in the pathogenesis of neuroHIV” and is open-access and freely available in the journal Retrovirology.
In a new review article published in Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences, Dr. Meucci’s group discusses clinical evidence of disrupted neuronal connectivity in HIV patients and the molecular mechanisms that drive neuronal dysfunction and cognitive impairment in HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders.
Jared Luchetta was appointed as a National Research Service Award (NRSA) pre-doctoral fellow on Drexel University’s Interdisciplinary and Translational Research Training Grant in NeuroAIDS. The training grant is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health as part of a long-standing collaboration between Drexel and Temple University investigators.
The Meucci lab published a book chapter on known and potential mechanisms by which µ-opioid agonists regulate neuronal iron homeostasis, a new finding that has implications for HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders and other neurological disorders. The chapter expands on previous work from our lab showing that morphine regulates iron storage in endolysosomes, and this leads to dendritic spine deficits in cortical neurons. In addition, the chapter covers known and probable molecular mechanisms for morphine regulation of endolysosomal iron stores, implications for other iron-related proteins including amyloid precursor protein (APP), and a new approach to determine if µ-opioid agonists regulate APP expression or processing.
This chapter was published in the second edition of the book “Opioid Receptors”, and an illustration from our chapter inspired the book cover art. The book is a part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series.
The abstract of the book chapter is available here.
In collaboration with 15 researchers, Dr. Meucci contributed to a viewpoint article on how coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) could be linked to Parkinson’s disease and Parkinsonism. The article discusses current knowledge and potential mechanisms by which SARS-CoV-2 may establish an infection in the brain, how brain infection might lead to clinical manifestations of Parkinsonism, and current clinical reports of movement disorders in COVID-19 patients.
The article is open-access and freely available at NPJ Parkinson’s Disease.
The Meucci lab recently published a new study suggesting that learning and memory problems in patients with HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) may be reversible. Using an animal model of HAND, Dr. Lindsay Festa and colleagues showed that treatment with the chemokine CXCL12 improved cognitive flexibility in a set-shifting task and increased dendritic spine density in the layer II/III prefrontal cortex, a critical brain area for flexible problem solving. CXCL12 treatment achieved these effects by activating a molecular signaling cascade via the small GTPase Rac1, which stabilized thin dendritic spines on cortical neurons. The study shows that CXCL12 reverses cognitive impairment in an animal model of HAND, suggesting that new treatments for HAND could exploit the CXCL12/Rac1 pathway in the brain.
This study is open access and freely available at eLIFE.
Olimpia Meucci, MD, PhD
Professor & Chair
Department of Pharmacology and Physiology
Department of Microbiology & Immunology
Drexel University College of Medicine
245 North 15th Street, NCB room #8221
Philadelphia, PA 19102
office phone: (215) 762-2597
lab phone: (215) 762 4138
fax: (215) 762-2299