Treatment strategies against HIV-1 infection could be enhanced by the use of marijuana derivatives.
Journal of Leukocyte Biology
Technically speaking, researchers have found that the compounds that stimulate the cannabinoid type-2 (CB2) receptor in white blood cells, particularly in macrophages, can reduce the severity of HIV-1 infection. CB2 is responsible for showing the effects of cannabis.
“The synthetic compounds we used in our study may show promise in helping the body fight HIV-1 infection,” said Yuri Persidsky, M.D., Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, PA.
Researchers, in this study, exposed the cell culture model of human macrophages to HIV-1 and added the active ingredient in marijuana to activate the CB2 receptor. They found decreased growth of HIV-1.
“These results indicate that CB2 may offer a means to limit HIV-1 infection in macrophages,” Researchers wrote.
“HIV/AIDS has posed one of the most significant health challenges in modern medicine,” said John Wherry, Ph.D., Deputy Editor of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology. “Recent high profile vaccine failures mean that all options need to be on the table to prevent or treat this devastating infection. Research on the role of cannabinoid type 2 receptors and viral infection may one day allow targeting these receptors to be part of combination therapies that use exploit multiple weaknesses of the virus simultaneously.”
“As compounds like these are improved further and made widely available, we will continue to explore their potential to fight other viral diseases that are notoriously difficult to treat,” Persidsky added.
Ramirez, S., Reichenbach, N., Fan, S., Rom, S., Merkel, S., Wang, X., Ho, W., & Persidsky, Y. (2013). Attenuation of HIV-1 replication in macrophages by cannabinoid receptor 2 agonists Journal of Leukocyte Biology, 93 (5), 801-810 DOI: 10.1189/jlb.1012523