Arturo Saavedra, MD, MBA, PhD

2009 DICP Faculty Fellowship Alumni

Kenneth Greer Endowed Professor and Chair of Dermatology, University of Virginia School of Medicine

Project Summary:

The immunologic mechanisms that lead to the development and progression of adverse cutaneous drug eruptions (ACDEs) are poorly understood.  Recently, Delaney et al. have evaluated the inflammatory infiltrate in skin biopsies from patients with ACDEs and have shown that there is a decreasing trend in the absolute number CD4 (+) cells in the dermis, as well as in the CD4/CD8 ratio, in “higher grade” lesions.  Only a few risk factors have been identified which predispose to the development of ACDEs, and particularly TEN, in humans.  It is widely accepted that HIV disease and the use of anti-retroviral, anti-tuberculous or sulfa-containing medications increases susceptibility of the host to ACDEs correlating with a decrease in peripheral blood CD4  counts.  A potential correlation between the immunophenotype of inflammatory cell infiltrates in biopsies from patients with adverse cutaneous drug eruptions (ACDEs) and clinical severity of disease has not been studied.  In these experiments we aim to: (1) test the hypothesis that a lower number of regulatory T cells (Tregs) predisposes patients to developing ACDEs; (2) test the hypothesis that patients with HIV infection are at increased risk of developing ACDEs as a result of a lower level of Tregs recruited to skin; and (3) evaluate the level of expression of Th17 cells present in skin of HIV-infected and non-infected hosts in order to test their contribution to risk of developing ACDEs.


Arturo Saavedra, MD, PhD is an associate professor in Dermatology and Internal Medicine at the Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Harvard Medical School.  After completing an MD/PhD program at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Saavedra completed his Internal Medicine Residency at the Brigham and Women's Hospital, where he served as the Medical Chief Resident. He completed Dermatology Residency at the Harvard Combined Dermatology Program as well as a Fellowship in Dermatopathology.  His clinical interests include Immunobullous Disease, HIV Dermatology and care of the Oncologic and Post-Transplant patient. His research interests focus on the role of infectious and iatrogenic immunosuppression in altering immunophenotypes in cutaneous cell infiltrates.