Research Interest

My current research projects focus on activation of latent HIV in CD4 T cells and prevent HIV infection. HIV can establish a state of latency in individual T cells, and HIV is persistently produced in HIV patients, despite undetectable viral loads. The latent HIV reservoir is a major hurdle preventing the eradication and cure of HIV-1. Lifelong HAART is required, because the virus rebounds if HAART is stopped; however, prolonged HAART is costly and associated with various toxicities. Therefore, finding a way to eradicate latent HIV-1 has become an important goal. I have found that Acitretin alone is a weak activator of HIV-1 transcription compare to suberoylanilidehydroxamic Acid (SAHA) (HDACi), or the phorbol ester, prostratin, but acts synergistically with SAHA or prostratin to greatly induce HIV expression from latently infected cells . Acitretin treatment increases RAR, RXR, IRF-2 and p300 expression but does not induce polyclonal activation of CD4 T cells as measured by gene expression and cell surface immunophenotyping for markers of T cell activation. Hope to define Acitretin as a new drug for use in combination treatment to reduce the latent HIV reservoir.

I also studied that exogenous hyaluronic acid (HA) can reduce infectivity of HIVCD44, but has no impact on infectivity of HIVmock. Reduction of endogenous HA from CD4 T cells surface by hyaluronidase only enhances infectivity of HIVCD44. Exogenous HA decreasing of HIV infectivity is CD44 depended. Exogenous HA dwindled infectivity of HIVCD44 is involved lower phosphorylation of Protein Kinase C alpha (PKCa) via CD44. Exogenous HA also can reduce cell-cell HIV transmission, and HA can synergistically enhance Tenofovir (TDF) inhibition of HIV infection. These results indicate that HA interaction with CD44 to modulate HIV infection through PKCa. HA is abundant in mucosal tissue, this finding may help to understand HIV transmission through mucosal tissue. This study may help to further understand HIV interaction with host factors in the mucosal tissue, to design potential novel approaches to prevent HIV infection through mucosal transmission.


Peilin Li

Assistant Adjunct Professor


  • : 415-221-4810

  • DEPARTMENTSchool of Medicine, UCSF
    University of California, San Francisco