July 06, 2021
This project will investigate how toxins produced by HIV1 and antiretroviral therapies used to treat HIV impact the frontal cortex. It will involve recording brain cell activity in awake, behaving rats as they perform a simple behavioral task that has been shown to elicit a type of brain activity, called Medial Frontal Theta, that is a key marker of cognitive processing in animals and humans. The first set of studies (Aim 1) will examine how a toxin called HIV1 tat impacts the structural and functional integrity of the frontal cortex leading to changes in self control in a behavioral task and changes in Medial Frontal Theta associated with encoding reward value and the decision to accept or reject a rewarding fluid. The second set of studies (Aim 2) will use the same methods as Aim 1 to examine how a common component of antiretroviral therapies, efavirenz, itself alters the frontal cortex in otherwise normal animals, and may lead to changes in frontal cortex structure, function, and behavior. The proposed studies will support two future grant proposals to NIH to expand on the work, and extend the project to other brain areas, other toxins associated with HIV, and other forms of antiretroviral therapy.