Center for Vaccine Research

Cristian Apetrei, MD, PhD

  • Professor
  • Microbiology and Molecular Genetics

Dr. Apetrei is an professor in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Dr. Apetrei received his M.D. and Ph.D. Degrees from the School of Medicine of the "Gr. T. Popa" University of Iasi, Romania. He is board certified in the EU in Microbiology and Infectious Diseases. He was a research fellow in the Virus Laboratory of Bichat-Claude Bernard Hospital, Paris France. Dr. Apetrei has expertise in the pathogenesis and diversity of HIV/SIV infection.

Representative Publications

  • Pandrea I, Xu C, Stock JL, Frank DN, Ma D, Policicchio BB, He T, Kristoff J, Cornell E, Haret-Richter GS, Trichel A, Ribeiro RM, Tracy R, Wilson C, Landay A, & Apetrei C: Combination antibiotic and antiinflammatory therapy reduces acute inflammation and hypercoagulation in SIV-infected pigtailed macaques. Plos Pathogens 2016; 12; e1005384.
  • Bailey AL, Lauck M, Sibley SD, Friedrich TC, Kuhn JH, Phillips-Conroy JE, Jolly CJ, Marx PA, Apetrei C, Rogers J, Goldberg TL, & O’Connor DH: Zoonotic potential of simian arteriviruses. J Virol 2016; 90: 630-635.
  • Hao XP, Lucero CM, Turkbey B, Bernardo ML, Morcock DL, Deleage C, Trubey CM, Smedley J, Klatt NR, Giavedoni LD, Del Prete GQ, Keele BF, Rao SS, Gregory Alvord L, Choyke PL, Lifson JD, Brenchley JM, Apetrei C, Pandrea I, & Estes JD: Experimental colitis in SIV-uninfected rhesus macaques recapitulates the microbial translocation and systemic immune activation of SIV infection. Nature Communications 2015; 6: 8020.
  • He T, Brocca-Cofano E, Gillespie D, Xu C, Stock J, Ma D, Policicchio BB, Raehtz K, Rinaldo CR, Apetrei C, Jackson EK, Macatangay BJC, & Pandrea I: Critical role for the adenosine pathway in controlling SIV-related immune activation and inflammation in gut mucosal tissues. J Virol 2015; 89: 9616-9630.
  • Ma D, Xu C, Cillo A, Policicchio BB, Kristoff J, Haret-Richter G, Mellors JW, Pandrea I, & Apetrei C: SIVsab infection of rhesus macaques as a model of complete immunological suppression with persistent reservoirs of replication-competent virus: Implications for cure research. J. Virol 2015; 89: 6155-6160.
  • Pandrea I, Landay A, Wilson C, Stock J, Tracy R, & Apetrei C: Using the pathogenic and nonpathogenic nonhuman primate models for studying non-AIDS comorbidities. Curr HIV/AIDS Rep, 2015: 12: 54-67.
  • Mandell DT, Kristoff J, Gaufin T, Gautam R, Ma D, Sandler N, Haret-Richter GS, Xu C, Aamer H, Dufour J, Trichel A, Douek DC, Keele BF, Apetrei C, & Pandrea I: Pathogenic features associated with increased virulence upon simian immunodeficiency virus cross-species transmission from natural hosts. J. Virol. 2014; 88: 6778-6792.
  • Kristoff J, Haret-Richter GS, Ma D, Ribeiro RM, Xu C, Cornell E, Stock JL, He T, Mobley AD, Trichel A, Wilson C, Tracy R, Landay A, Apetrei C, & Pandrea I: Early microbial translocation blockade reduces SIV-mediated inflammation and viral replication. J. Clin Invest. 2014; 124: 2802-2806.
  • Ma D, Jasinska A, Feyertag F, Wijewardana V, Kristoff J, He T, Raehtz KD, Schmitt C, Antonio M, Tracy R, Turner T, Robertson DL, Pandrea I, Freimer N, & Apetrei C, for "The International Vervet Research Consortium": Factors associated with SIV transmission in a natural African nonhuman primate host in the wild. J. Virol. 2014; 88: 5687-5705.
  • Ma D, Jasinska A, Kristoff J, Grobler JP, Turner T, Jung Y, Schmitt C, Raehtz K, Feyertag F, Martinez Sosa N, Wijewardana V, Burke DS, Robertson DL, Tracy R, Pandrea I, Freimer N, Apetrei C; International Vervet Research Consortium.SIVagm Infection in Wild African Green Monkeys from South Africa: Epidemiology, Natural History, and Evolutionary Considerations.PLoS Pathog. 2013 Jan;9(1):e1003011.

Research Interests

My laboratory is interested in the study of the HIV/SIV diversity and pathogenesis. As SIVs naturally infect more than 40 species of non-human primates (NHPs)in Africa, our major concern is whether or not the remaining viruses infecting other species of African NHPs pose a major threat for humans. Our studies revealed that cross-species transmission of SIVs to humans are not the only requirement for the emergence on new virus strains and suggested that viral adaptation in the new host may play a decisive role for this event. Understanding the mechanisms of viral adaptation to new hosts upon cross-species transmission is of major interest for my laboratory. Using monkey models, we study the mechanisms of viral adaptation associated with viral emergence. Also, in order to better understand the AIDS pathogenesis, we are using various models of SIV infection in natural hosts. In African monkeys SIV are not pathogenic in the vast majority of cases. My group is involved in the study of all currently available models (sooty mangabeys, African green monkeys and mandrills) and generated significant results that challenged core paradigms of SIV pathogenesis.These studies may help us to control HIV infection in patients. Since no vaccinal strategy currently developed seems to be effective, these alternative approaches may be essential in the control of AIDS pandemic. We are also interested in testing new strategies aimed at reducing the virus in the reservoir and in boosting immune responses to effectively clear the reactivated virus in SIV-infected monkeys. To this goal, our laboratory developed new animal models of posttreatment control of infection or of spontaneous control of viral replication. Such models can be employed in cure research to screen for latency reversing agents.