Among virally suppressed people living with HIV (PLWH), cannabis use was related to alterations in T cells and immunophenotypes, supporting the substance’s anti-inflammatory effect. The use of cannabis was not associated with altered frequency of intact or total HIV DNA. Further research into cannabis use among PLWH is needed.
“Impact of cannabis use on immune cell populations and the viral reservoir in people with HIV on suppressive antiretroviral therapy“ was published online on Aug. 22, 2023, in The Journal of Infectious Diseases. The lead author is Shane D. Falcinelli of the Department of Medicine, the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and the HIV Cure Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The observational cross-sectional study evaluated the impact of cannabis use on latent HIV reservoir and inflammatory markers by analyzing peripheral blood cells from 33 PLWH who use the psychoactive drug and 42 PLWH who do not use it. All participants were virally suppressed on antiretroviral therapy, did not use other illicit substances, and did not have alcohol use disorder. Current cannabis use was verified by a urine test while long-term use was self-reported.
Current use was associated with changes in T cell maturation, activation, and exhaustion, while years of use were related to changes in immunophenotypes. HIV-specific T cell responses were similar between the two groups, as was total HIV DNA and absolute frequency of intact proviruses.
While an exploratory subgroup analysis found that cannabis use may be related to lower HIV reservoir frequency among PLWH with higher NK cell NKG2A expression, overall reservoir size did not differ between the two groups.
Results support previous findings of cannabis’ anti-inflammatory effect. Additional research is needed to elucidate the mechanisms of this drug in PLWH and its effect on other physiological and psychological processes.
These findings may influence the design of future studies on cannabis and the HIV reservoir, whose results could inform ways of mitigating ongoing inflammation, as well as HIV cure strategies.
By Barbara Jungwirth
Source : TheBodyPro
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