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HIV’s effect on the gut immune cells appears significant. This implies that gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) stands as a possible viral replication reservoir. Virologist Guido Van Marle is researching how and why this happens and how gut infection affects systemic infection.

Listen in as he and Richard explore every step of HIV infection.

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They discuss

  • What the difference between the acute and dormant stage is and why it’s termed dormant rather than latent,
  • Why some infected individuals are long-term non progressors and others develop AIDS, and
  • What happens when the virus attacks the gut-associated lymphoid tissue and why this is significant.

Guido Van Marle is an associate professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Infectious Diseases at the University of Calgary.

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He focuses on viruses, specifically molecular virology techniques of West Nile Virus and the HIV-1 life cycle. He offers listeners numerous molecular mechanism examples of HIV.

He takes special care to designate the different stages of viral infection, explaining how in the early stage, called the acute or primary infection phase, the virus replicates and destroys some of the immune system cells. When it moves into the dormant stage, this activity dies down and the immune system is able to rebound.

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Significantly, the gut immune cells don’t rebound the way other systems do.

In fact, his research has found that there is high load of infection going on in these gastrointestinal tract cells in that early acute phase post-HIV transmission, which means the area experiences a lot of cell death and inflammation: this allows pathogens to enter the tract and exit into the blood stream.

He explains the molecular mechanisms of biology that lead to leaky gut in this process. Furthermore, when doctors deliver antiviral therapy, and the patient’s immune cells increase in number, they don’t increase as much in the gut. He has focused on this area of infection for his research with the hopes of understanding disease progression as a whole.

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