HealthDay News — Cocaine exposure has a multifactorial impact on HIV infection that extends beyond high-risk behavior, according to an experimental study published online in Scientific Reports.
To examine the impact of cocaine use on HIV infection and pathogenesis, Sohn G. Kim, from the University of California Los Angeles AIDS Institute, and colleagues infected BLT humanized mice with HIV-1 following acute cocaine exposure.
Subsets of mice were infected with HIV-1 following a five-day cocaine pretreatment, followed by continuous cocaine administration.
The researchers found that stimulant exposure correlated with increased immune activation and increased kinetics of HIV infection, with animals expressing higher levels of spliced viral mRNA in peripheral blood. Stimulant exposure attenuated effector function of cytotoxic T lymphocytes.
“These studies demonstrate that cocaine exposure does not simply enhance HIV infection through high-risk behavior, but also importantly through significant changes on the physiology and function of human immune cells that allow the virus to replicate and spread efficiently,” the authors write.