Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Marijuana-like chemicals inhibit human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in late-state AIDS

Date:
March 20, 2012
Source:
Mount Sinai Medical Center
Summary:
Marijuana-like chemicals trigger receptors on human immune cells that can directly inhibit a type of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) found in late-stage AIDS, research suggests.

Mount Sinai School of Medicine researchers have discovered that marijuana-like chemicals trigger receptors on human immune cells that can directly inhibit a type of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) found in late-stage AIDS, according to new findings published online in the journal PLoS ONE.

Medical marijuana is prescribed to treat pain, debilitating weight loss and appetite suppression, side effects that are common in advanced AIDS. This is the first study to reveal how the marijuana receptors found on immune cells -- called cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 -- can influence the spread of the virus. Understanding the effect of these receptors on the virus could help scientists develop new drugs to slow the progression of AIDS.

"We knew that cannabinoid drugs like marijuana can have a therapeutic effect in AIDS patients, but did not understand how they influence the spread of the virus itself," said study author Cristina Costantino, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Pharmacology and Systems Therapeutics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. "We wanted to explore cannabinoid receptors as a target for pharmaceutical interventions that treat the symptoms of late-stage AIDS and prevent further progression of the disease without the undesirable side effects of medical marijuana."

HIV infects active immune cells that carry the viral receptor CD4, which makes these cells unable to fight off the infection. In order to spread, the virus requires that "resting" immune cells be activated. In advanced AIDS, HIV mutates so it can infect these resting cells, gaining entry into the cell by using a signaling receptor called CXCR4. By treating the cells with a cannabinoid agonist that triggers CB2, Dr. Costantino and the Mount Sinai team found that CB2 blocked the signaling process, and suppressed infection in resting immune cells.

Triggering CB1 causes the drug high associated with marijuana, making it undesirable for physicians to prescribe. The researchers wanted to explore therapies that would target CB2 only. The Mount Sinai team infected healthy immune cells with HIV, then treated them with a chemical that triggers CB2 called an agonist. They found that the drug reduced the infection of the remaining cells.

"Developing a drug that triggers only CB2 as an adjunctive treatment to standard antiviral medication may help alleviate the symptoms of late-stage AIDS and prevent the virus from spreading," said Dr. Costantino. Because HIV does not use CXCR4 to enhance immune cell infection in the early stages of infection, CB2 agonists appear to be an effective antiviral drug only in late-stage disease.

As a result of this discovery, the research team led by Benjamin Chen, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Infectious Diseases, and Lakshmi Devi, PhD, Professor of Pharmacology and Systems Therapeutics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, plans to develop a mouse model of late-stage AIDS in order to test the efficacy of a drug that triggers CB2 in vivo. In 2009 Dr. Chen was part of a team that captured on video for the first time the transfer of HIV from infected T-cells to uninfected T-cells.

Funding for this study was provided to Drs. Chen and Devi by the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Dr. Costantino is supported by a National Institutes of Health Clinical and Translational Science Award grant awarded to Mount Sinai School of Medicine.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Cristina Maria Costantino, Achla Gupta, Alice W. Yewdall, Benjamin M. Dale, Lakshmi A. Devi, Benjamin K. Chen Cristina Maria Costantino. Cannabinoid Receptor 2-Mediated Attenuation of CXCR4-Tropic HIV Infection in Primary CD4 T Cells. PLoS ONE, 20 Mar 2012 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0033961

Cite This Page:

Mount Sinai Medical Center. "Marijuana-like chemicals inhibit human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in late-state AIDS." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 March 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120320195252.htm>.
Mount Sinai Medical Center. (2012, March 20). Marijuana-like chemicals inhibit human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in late-state AIDS. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120320195252.htm
Mount Sinai Medical Center. "Marijuana-like chemicals inhibit human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in late-state AIDS." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120320195252.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

AP (July 28, 2014) A bipartisan deal to improve veterans health care would authorize at least $15 billion in emergency spending to fix a veterans program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Reuters - US Online Video (July 28, 2014) Two American aid workers in Liberia test positive for Ebola while working to combat the deadliest outbreak of the virus ever. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
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:
from the past week

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