Research Project: Understanding the impact of protease inhibitors on placenta formation and pregnancy outcome

Postdoc Year(s): 2014-2015

Dr. Hakimeh Mohammadi research focuses on pregnant women living with HIV, an area that has received insufficient attention since the development of combination antiretroviral therapy (cART). In particular, she seeks to compare placenta formation and other pregnancy-related characteristics in HIV-negative women, as well as women with HIV receiving protease inhibitors (PIs), and non-PI ART regimens.

“cART has significantly reduced mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV, but is associated with increased adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as preterm delivery,” says Dr. Mohammadi. Furthermore, “studies indicate that the incidence of these unwanted outcomes is higher in women with HIV receiving PIs as part of their cART regimen.”

The outcomes of this research will help shed light on the role of PIs on placenta-forming and angiogenic processes during pregnancy, and their impact on pregnancy outcomes. The findings can then be subsequently applied to update or establish new guidelines for antiretroviral use during pregnancy, and help improve the clinical management of pregnant women with HIV.

Dr. Mohammadi received her Master of Science in Medical Virology at the University of Tehran, Iran, and further developed her knowledge of viral pathogenesis at the Influenza Unit of the Pasteur Institute of Iran. She then moved to Canada to work on her PhD in Virology at the University of Guelph, Ontario. She currently works at the Toronto General Research Institute (TGRI).