Cocaine Users Are More Prone to HIV
A recent research conducted by the UCLA found that cocaine users are more prone to HIV.
The research was spearheaded by Dimitrios Vatakis, an assistant professor of medicine in the division of hematology-oncology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
The researchers conducted an in vitro study on blood, which they collected from healthy people. The CD4 T (cluster of differentiation 4 ) cells were separated from the blood. These cells are resistant to AIDS-causing viruses. CD4 T is a glycoprotein, which covers the surface of immune cells. These cells were exposed to cocaine for three days and then to HIV.
The cells were observed under the different stages of HIV and found to be more vulnerable to the disease compared to the untreated cells.
"The surprising result was that the changes cocaine induced on these cells were very minimal, yet they were sufficient to fuel infection," Vatakis said in a press release.
"We found that cocaine mediates its effects directly, inducing minimal changes in the physiology of these cells and utilizing the same pathways it uses to target the brain," Vatakis added.
The cocaine treated CD4 T cells became susceptible to HIV when two receptors called D4 and σ1 got triggered in the cells. According to the observations, an increase was seen in the production of the T cells, which get easily affected by viruses.
"We have shown that cocaine modulates the permissiveness of quiescent cells to HIV," the researchers concluded. "The potential for cocaine to augment the pool of HIV target cells with a commensurate increase in the viral reservoir has significant implications for HIV seropositive individuals who abuse or use stimulants such as cocaine."
This study is also published in the October issue of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology.
Cocaine consumption also causes high blood pressure, increases the risk of heart diseases. The researchers will be conducting more tests and analysis using humanized mouse models to find if cocaine causes any other health related problems and how it causes cells to becomes more vulnerable to the infection. They will also study the effectiveness of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).