Morphine affects HIV-induced inflammatory response without influencing viral replication in human monocyte-derived macrophages

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Opiate-abusing individuals are in the top three risk-factor groups for HIV infection. In fact, almost 30% of HIV-infected individuals in the USA are reported to abuse opiates, highlighting the intersection of drugs of abuse with HIV/AIDS. Opiate-abusers are cognitively impaired and suffer from neurological dysfunctions that may lead to high-risk sexual behavior, poor adherence to antiretroviral regimens, and hepatitis-C virus infection. Collectively, these factors may contribute to accelerated HIV central nervous system (CNS) disease progression. To understand the role of morphine in disease progression, we sought to determine whether morphine influences HIV-induced inflammation or viral replication in human monocyte-derived macrophages (h-mdms) and MAGI cells infected with HIV and exposed to morphine. Chronic morphine exposure of HIV-infected h-mdms led to significant alterations in the secretion of IL-6 and monocyte chemoattractant protein 2 (MCP-2). Morphine enhanced IL-6 secretion and blunted MCP-2 secretion from HIV-infected h-mdms. However, exposure of HIV-infected h-mdms to morphine had no effect on tumor necrosis factor alpha secretion. Morphine had no effect on later stages of viral replication in HIV-infected h-mdms. Morphine had a potentially additive effect on the HIV-induced production of IL-6 and delayed HIV-induced MCP-2 production. These results suggest that in HIV-infected opiate-abusers, enhanced CNS inflammation might result even when HIV disease is controlled.

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