How HIV Affects the Brain

Biomarkers graph
Low neurosteroid metabolites correlate with persistent depression among people with HIV on therapy. Publication details.

Even if HIV viral loads are undetectable, HIV-associated brain disorders and neuropathy still occur. Our research aims to understand how that happens, and how to prevent it.

Depression is a critical medical challenge that affects millions of people with HIV (PWH). Some people with depressive disorders do not respond to traditional antidepressant treatments. Our lab focuses on the interactions between the body and the brain by analyzing systemic networks altered in depression and disorders of cognition in people with HIV.  

Why It's Important to Participate in Research Studies

  • Learn about your own health
  • Help others who live with HIV
  • Increase the research voice of underrepresented groups
  • Be a part of something important and meaningful
  • Help researchers learn more about HIV to discover future treatments and therapy

Brain, Body, and Gut

Study design infographic
Our clinical research study uses immune profiling, brain imaging, and data about symptoms and medical history to understand  the neurological impacts of HIV

The Mukerji lab directs the neurological substudy of a Phase II randomized double-blind placebo-control trial on the Gut Barrier and Blood Vessel Inflammation in Individuals With and Without HIV with Principal Investigator Dr. Janet Lo, MD, MMSc. The goal is to determine the impact of gastrointestinal epithelial integrity on arterial inflammation and neurological outcomes in adults with and without HIV.

Trial participants undergo brain and body FDG-PET imaging, colonoscopies, depressive symptom inventory, and neuropsychological testing, immunological phenotyping, and metabolite profiling. The goal of these studies is to develop biomarkers for therapeutic targeting of depression and cognitive function in people with HIV. This study is funded by the National Institute of Health and Center for AIDS Research.


We are honored to collaborate with many other researchers and clinicians, with special thanks to Dana Gabuzda, MD and Janet Lo, MD.

Relevant Papers

Mogamulizumab for Treatment of HTLV-1 Associated Myelopathy/Tropical Spastic Paraparesis: A Single-Center US-Based Series: Clinical Infectious Diseases

Machine Learning Approaches to Understand Cognitive Phenotypes in People With HIV: Journal of Infectious Disease

Neurosteroids and Depression in PWH; Journal of Infectious Diseases 2020

Impact of ART on CSF Escape in PWH; Clinical Infectious Diseases 2018

Modeling Depression in Men with HIV infection and Cocaine Use; AIDS and Behavior 201

See more at Harvard Catalyst