Dr. Agudelo’s research studies are subdivided into two components:
Immune Research: her current research focus is to define the expression and function of cannabinoid genes and histone modifications in human innate immune cells with emphasis in monocytes and monocyte-derived cells. The main goal is to identify specific histone modifications and study their impact on regulation of inflammatory and oxidative stress-related genes.
Substance Abuse: current studies in her laboratory focus on the neuro-immunological effects of synthetic cannabinoids and alcohol. The main goal is to elucidate the consequences of these substances of abuse on the immune and central nervous systems with emphasis on innate immune cells and their role in neuro-inflammation.
Ongoing substance abuse research projects in her laboratory include:
- Extramural funded project to study the effects of alcohol on monocyte-derived dendritic cells with emphasis on alcohol-induced regulation of histone modifying enzymes and cannabinoid genes.
- Intramural pilot project to study the epigenetic effects of synthetic cannabinoids on innate immune cell function and inflammation.
Current collaborations with the Department of Immunology & Nano-Medicine faculty:
- Nano-delivery of methanandamide across the blood brain barrier to block cannabinoid induced effects in HIV-1 infection.
- Role of Exosome extracellular vesicles in opiate abuse and HIV neuropathogenesis.
- Chronic alcohol-induced epigenetic changes regulate human monocyte function leading to inflammation and exaggerating inflammation in human cells and tissue in vitro and in mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Regulation of cannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoids in peripheral blood mononuclear cells and plasma from a longitudinal study in women with HIV and history of heavy alcohol consumption (Southern HIV and Alcohol Research Consortium).
- Epigenetic mechanisms regulating the neuro-inflammatory effects of cannabinoids in cells derived from marijuana users (Faculty from the University of Colorado and Florida International University)
- Effects of B-caryophyllene treatment on markers of inflammation and chronic pain including the cannabinoid receptor CB2 (Faculty from the University of Arizona and Florida International University)
- Effects of alcohol and synthetic cannabinoids on cannabinoid receptors and histone acetylation in human liver mononuclear cells and in murine liver cells isolated from a model of diet-induced obesity (Faculty from HWCOM and FIU)
- Collaboration with the Florida Science Training and Research Fellowship Program to mentor and retain underrepresented in medicine undergraduate students by supporting and involving them in laboratory research experiences that heighten their sense of purpose and commitment to a medical or scientific career.