Cannabis Use Associates With Reduced Proviral Burden and Inflammatory Cytokine in Tissues From Men With Clade C HIV-1 on Suppressive Antiretroviral Therapy

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The Journal of Infectious Diseases


BACKGROUND: Human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1) tissue reservoirs remain the main obstacle against an HIV cure. Limited information exists regarding cannabis's effects on HIV-1 infections in vivo, and the impact of cannabis use on HIV-1 parenchymal tissue reservoirs is unexplored. METHODS: To investigate whether cannabis use alters HIV-1 tissue reservoirs, we systematically collected 21 postmortem brain and peripheral tissues from 20 men with subtype C HIV-1 and with suppressed viral load enrolled in Zambia, 10 of whom tested positive for cannabis use. The tissue distribution and copies of subtype C HIV-1 LTR, gag, env DNA and RNA, and the relative mRNA levels of cytokines IL-1β, IL-6, IL-10, and TGF-β1 were quantified using PCR-based approaches. Utilizing generalized linear mixed models we compared persons with HIV-1 and suppressed viral load, with and without cannabis use. RESULTS: The odds of tissues harboring HIV-1 DNA and the viral DNA copies in those tissues were significantly lower in persons using cannabis. Moreover, the transcription levels of proinflammatory cytokines IL-1β and IL-6 in lymphoid tissues of persons using cannabis were also significantly lower. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggested that cannabis use is associated with reduced sizes and inflammatory cytokine expression of subtype C HIV-1 reservoirs in men with suppressed viral load.

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