Dr. Shen’s research interests focus on two areas: the regulation of HIV-1 replication in mucosal cells and the immunobiology of HIV-1 transmission in genital and gut mucosae. His recent studies have elucidated the role of vaginal and intestinal macrophages and dendritic cells in HIV-1 infection, antibody inhibition of HIV-1 transcytosis across rectal mucosa, the role of intestinal microenvironment on HIV-1 infection, the role of envelope glycan moieties on the major events of HIV-1 mucosal transmission, and the effect of breast milk on mother-to-child transmission. He has been publishing in Journal of Virology, Journal of Immunology, Journal of Biological Chemistry, Mucosal Immunology, PLoS Pathogens and others. His work is currently supported by NIH, UAB CFAR and UAB Cancer Center.
We report that primary human vaginal dendritic cells (DCs) display a myeloid phenotype and express CD4, CCR5 and CXCR4. Vaginal CD13+CD11c+ DCs rapidly and efficiently bound transmitted/founder (T/F) CCR5-tropic (R5) viruses, transported them through explanted vaginal mucosa, and transmitted them in trans to vaginal and blood lymphocytes. Vaginal myeloid DCs may play a key role in capturing and disseminating T/F R5 HIV-1 in vivo and are candidate “gatekeeper” cells in HIV-1 transmission.