Elucidate mechanisms by which hormones regulate infectivity and immune responses to sexually transmitted diseases such as Chlamydia, Herpes Simples Virus-2 and HIV-1. Understanding these mechanisms will be critical in developing successful vaccine strategies to STDs. We have previously shown that sex hormones play a critical role in regulating immune system in the female genital tract.
Role of factors such as cytokines and chemokines that initiate and regulate immune responses in female genital tract and their interaction with sex hormones; Expression of receptors and co-receptors to herpes and HIV and their regulation by sex hormones; Studies on infectivity of human and mouse epithelial cells by HSV-2 and HIV and changes in infectivity and immune responses under different hormonal conditions; in vivo regulation of mucosal immune responses in the genital tract to viral and bacterial STDs by sex hormones.
In vitro cell cultures of primary genital tract cells and cell lines to examine infectivity and cellular responses; in vivo infection of ovariectomized mice followed by hormone replacement to examine immune responses in intact animals; cellular and molecular assays to examine differential cytokine and chemokine expressions such as RNase protection assays and gene array analysis; antigen specific T and B cell immune responses; confocal microscopy; flow cytometry.