New York, NY: The activation of specific endogenous cannabinoid receptors moderates the progression of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), according to preclinical data published online in the journal PLoS ONE.
Investigators at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City assessed whether the administration of a selective cannabinoid agonist could regulate HIV-1 infectivity. Researchers reported that activation of the CB2 receptor inhibits HIV infection in culture.
Authors concluded, "[T]he clinical use of (selective CB2) agonists in the treatment of AIDS symptoms may also exert beneficial adjunctive antiviral effects ... in late stages of HIV-1 infection."
Last year, investigators at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center reported that the long-term administration of delta-9-THC, the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana, is associated with decreased mortality in monkeys infected with the simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), a primate model of HIV disease.
Writing in the journal AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses, authors concluded: "Contrary to what we expected, ... delta-9-THC treatment clearly did not increase disease progression, and indeed resulted in generalized attenuation of classic markers of SIV disease. ... These results indicate that chronic delta-9-THC does not increase viral load or aggravate morbidity and may actually ameliorate SIV disease progression."
Separate trials in human subjects have previously documented that the short-term inhalation of cannabis does not adversely impact viral loads in HIV patients, and may even improve immune function.
For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: email@example.com. Full text of the study, "Cannabinoid Receptor 2-Mediated Attenuation of CXCR4-Tropic HIV Infection in Primary CD4+ T Cells," appears online in PLoS ONE. Additional studies documenting the disease modifying potential of marijuana is available in the NORML handbook, Emerging Clinical Applications For Cannabis & Cannabinoids: Fourth Edition, available online at: http://norml.org/library/recent-research-on-medical-marijuana.