Nav: Home

UM researcher finds link between crystal methamphetamine and immune changes in HIV

May 04, 2018

A researcher at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine has found that the use of stimulants, such as methamphetamine, can negatively affect the health of HIV-positive persons even when they are adhering to medical treatment.

"Stimulant use may accelerate HIV disease progression through biological and behavioral pathways," said Adam Carrico, Ph.D., associate professor of Public Health Sciences and Psychology. "But if we can identify the biological pathways, then we can develop new approaches to optimize the health of active stimulant users who are living with HIV."

Carrico was the lead author of a study, "Recent Stimulant Use and Leukocyte Gene Expression in Methamphetamine Users with Treated HIV Infection," published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. The collaborative study, conducted with researchers at the University of California San Francisco, University of California Los Angeles, and New York University, involved epigenetic analyses of samples from 55 HIV-positive, methamphetamine-using men who were receiving effective anti-retroviral therapy.

"We found a differential expression of 32 genes and perturbation of 168 pathways in recent stimulant users, including genes previously associated with the HIV reservoir, immune activation, and inflammation," said Carrico.

Carrico has done extensive research on strategies to boost the effectiveness of HIV/AIDS anti-retroviral therapy with individuals who use stimulants. "Anti-retroviral therapy is often successful in suppressing HIV in the blood," he said. "However, the virus typically remains in reservoirs, such as the lymph nodes and inside some immune cells."

This study indicates that stimulants affect pathways in the immune system that allow HIV to become more active and could expand the reservoir. "The differences in gene expression we observed in recent stimulant users are like flipping switches that turn on parts of the immune system that expand the HIV reservoir," Carrico said.

Carrico said the study's findings could be helpful in the ongoing quest to find a cure for HIV. "Maybe these pathways can help us to understand how we can 'wake up' the virus and pull it out of hiding; some of these pathways could become targets for potential biomedical treatments targeting the HIV reservoir," he said.

"We are now testing behavioral interventions in San Francisco and Miami that are designed to reduce stimulant use in people living with HIV," Carrico said. "Hopefully, decreasing the use of stimulants like methamphetamine will allow for better control of the HIV viral load and could even directly improve the immune system."

Carrico was also lead author of a second study, "Substance-Associated Elevations in Monocyte Activation Among Methamphetamine Users with Treated HIV Infection," now in press in the journal AIDS. In 84 virally suppressed HIV-positive, methamphetamine-using men his team found that those with evidence of recent stimulant use displayed greater soluble CD14 (sCD14). This is a clinically relevant marker of monocyte activation that predicts faster clinical HIV progression and cardiovascular disease.

Carrico's research program at the Miller School focuses on developing and testing interventions that address the biopsychosocial vulnerabilities to optimizing HIV/AIDS prevention in substance users. This summer, Carrico will present his study findings at the University of Cape Town, where he will serve as a visiting scholar.
-end-


University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

Related Immune System Articles:

The immune system may explain skepticism towards immigrants
There is a strong correlation between our fear of infection and our skepticism towards immigrants.
New insights on how pathogens escape the immune system
The bacterium Salmonella enterica causes gastroenteritis in humans and is one of the leading causes of food-borne infectious diseases.
Understanding how HIV evades the immune system
Monash University (Australia) and Cardiff University (UK) researchers have come a step further in understanding how the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) evades the immune system.
Carbs during workouts help immune system recovery
Eating carbohydrates during intense exercise helps to minimise exercise-induced immune disturbances and can aid the body's recovery, QUT research has found.
A new model for activation of the immune system
By studying a large protein (the C1 protein) with X-rays and electron microscopy, researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark have established a new model for how an important part of the innate immune system is activated.
Guards of the human immune system unraveled
Dendritic cells represent an important component of the immune system: they recognize and engulf invaders, which subsequently triggers a pathogen-specific immune response.
How our immune system targets TB
Researchers have seen, for the very first time, how the human immune system recognizes tuberculosis (TB).
How a fungus inhibits the immune system of plants
A newly discovered protein from a fungus is able to suppress the innate immune system of plants.
A new view of the immune system
Pathogen epitopes are fragments of bacterial or viral proteins. Nearly a third of all existing human epitopes consist of two different fragments.
TB tricks the body's immune system to allow it to spread
Tuberculosis tricks the immune system into attacking the body's lung tissue so the bacteria are allowed to spread to other people, new research from the University of Southampton suggests.

Related Immune System Reading:

How the Immune System Works (The How it Works Series)
by Lauren M. Sompayrac (Author)

The Immune System, 4th Edition
by Peter Parham (Author)

The Immune System Recovery Plan: A Doctor's 4-Step Program to Treat Autoimmune Disease
by Susan Blum (Author), Mark Hyman (Foreword), Michele Bender (Foreword)

Basic Immunology: Functions and Disorders of the Immune System
by Abul K. Abbas MBBS (Author), Andrew H. H. Lichtman MD PhD (Author), Shiv Pillai MBBS PhD (Author)

The Immune System: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
by Paul Klenerman (Author)

Immune System: 101 Natural Ways to Boost your Immune System, Fight Germs, and Live a Healthy Life
by Living in Health (Author)

Boost Your Immune System: Strategies for Strengthening Your Immune System with Foods, Herbs, Stress Management, and More!
by Editors of Publications International Ltd. (Author)

The Immune System Cure: Optimize Your Immune System in 30 Days-The Natural Way!
by Lorna Vanderheaghe (Author)

The Immune System, 3rd Edition
by Peter Parham (Author)

Immune System (Amazing Body Systems)
by Karen Kenney (Author)

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Hacking The Law
We have a vision of justice as blind, impartial, and fair — but in reality, the law often fails those who need it most. This hour, TED speakers explore radical ways to change the legal system. Guests include lawyer and social justice advocate Robin Steinberg, animal rights lawyer Steven Wise, political activist Brett Hennig, and lawyer and social entrepreneur Vivek Maru.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#495 Earth Science in Space
Some worlds are made of sand. Some are made of water. Some are even made of salt. In science fiction and fantasy, planet can be made of whatever you want. But what does that mean for how the planets themselves work? When in doubt, throw an asteroid at it. This is a live show recorded at the 2018 Dragon Con in Atlanta Georgia. Featuring Travor Valle, Mika McKinnon, David Moscato, Scott Harris, and moderated by our own Bethany Brookshire. Note: The sound isn't as good as we'd hoped but we love the guests and the conversation and we wanted to...