Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Drug shared by addicts seems to protect against HIV brain dementia

Date:
April 16, 2010
Source:
Georgetown University Medical Center
Summary:
To their surprise, researchers have discovered that morphine (a derivate of the opium poppy that is similar to heroin) protects rat neurons against HIV toxicity -- a finding they say might help in the design of new neuroprotective therapies for patients with the infection.

To their surprise, researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) have discovered that morphine (a derivate of the opium poppy that is similar to heroin) protects rat neurons against HIV toxicity -- a finding they say might help in the design of new neuroprotective therapies for patients with the infection.

The discovery, being presented at the annual meeting of the Society of NeuroImmune Pharmacology, also helps explain why a subset of people who are heroin abusers and become infected with HIV through needle sharing don't develop HIV brain dementia. This brain disorder includes cognitive and motor abnormalities, anxiety and depression.

"We believe that morphine may be neuroprotective in a subset of people infected with HIV," says the study's lead investigator, Italo Mocchetti, PhD, Professor of neuroscience at GUMC. "That is not to say that people should use heroin to protect themselves -- that makes no medical sense at all -- but our findings gives us ideas about designing drugs that could be of benefit.

"Needless to say we were very surprised at the findings," he added. "We started with the opposite hypothesis -- that heroin was going to destroy neurons in the brain and lead to HIV dementia."

The researchers conducted the study because they knew that a number of HIV-positive people are also heroin abusers, and because of that, some are at high risk of developing neurological complications from the infection. Others, however, never develop these cognitive problems, Mocchetti says.

Because little is known about the molecular mechanisms linking opiates and HIV neurotoxicity, Mocchetti and his team conducted experiments in rats. They found that in the brain, morphine inhibited the toxic property of the HIV protein gp120 that mediates the infection of immune cells. With further investigation, they concluded that morphine induces production of the protein CCL5, which they discovered is released by astrocytes, a type of brain cell. CCL5 is known to activate factors that suppress HIV infection of human immune cells. "It is known to be important in blood, but we didn't know it is secreted in the brain," says Mocchetti. "Our hypothesis is that it is in the brain to prevent neurons from dying."

They say morphine blocked HIV from binding to CCR5 receptors it typically uses to enter and infect cells. The researchers believe CCL5 itself attached to those receptors, preventing the virus from using it. In this way, it prevented HIV-associated dementia. This effect, however, only worked in the M-trophic strain of HIV, the strain that most people are first infected with. It did not work with the second T-trophic strain that often infects patients later.

"Ideally we can use this information to develop a morphine-like compound that does not have the typical dependency and tolerance issues that morphine has," says Mocchetti.

The study was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health. The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Georgetown University Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Georgetown University Medical Center. "Drug shared by addicts seems to protect against HIV brain dementia." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 April 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100415185805.htm>.
Georgetown University Medical Center. (2010, April 16). Drug shared by addicts seems to protect against HIV brain dementia. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100415185805.htm
Georgetown University Medical Center. "Drug shared by addicts seems to protect against HIV brain dementia." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100415185805.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued new protocols for healthcare workers interacting with Ebola patients. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Ebola Vaccine Trials to Start a in January

WHO: Ebola Vaccine Trials to Start a in January

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Tens of thousands of doses of experimental Ebola vaccines could be available for "real-world" testing in West Africa as soon as January as long as they are deemed safe in soon to start trials, the World Health Organization said Tuesday. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Issues New Ebola Guidelines for Health Workers

CDC Issues New Ebola Guidelines for Health Workers

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 21, 2014) The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has set up new guidelines for health workers taking care of patients infected with Ebola. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins