Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Biomolecular Sciences

First Advisor

Jason Paris

Relational Format



The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) has affected more than 75 million individuals worldwide. HIV not only affects the peripheral system through the targeting of T cells, but also causes adverse effects in the central nervous system. Individuals suffering from HIV often experience neuropathic pain and are prescribed opioids to combat the chronic pain. Along with the increase of opioids prescribed to HIV patients, the number of deaths related to the synthetic opioid, fentanyl, has increased drastically. Drug abuse and HIV are interlinked epidemics; individuals who are HIV positive and referred to as “NeuroAIDS.” The HIV envelope protein, gp120, has been shown to have a wide variety of neurotoxic effects on the CNS through increasing cell death of astrocytes through stress-mediated apoptosis, increasing the permeability of the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB), increasing the expression of proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines, and altering and damaging mitochondria. The purpose of these experiments was to determine whether gp120 showed direct neurotoxic effects and/or indirect neurotoxic effects and whether fentanyl would act synergistically with gp120. Through conducting a Live/Dead Assay, Immunocytochemistry for GFAP/IBA1, and a Cytokine Array, it was determined that gp120 shows neither direct nor indirect neurotoxic effects, and fentanyl does not exacerbate the effects of gp120.

Included in

Biology Commons



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