With the spread of deadly AIDS viruses, HIV increasing unabated, use of cocaine may increase one’s vulnerability to the infection, a new study has warned.
According to the scientists, cocaine alters immune cells, called “quiescent CD4 T cells,” to render them more susceptible to the virus, and at the same time, to allow for increased proliferation of the virus.
“Such discovery can significantly improve the quality of life of drug users,” Vatakis said.
For the study, scientists collected blood from healthy human donors and isolated quiescent CD4 T cells, and exposed them to cocaine and subsequently infected them with HIV.
They found that cocaine rendered this subset of CD4 T cells susceptible to HIV, resulting in significant infection and new virus production.
“The co-epidemics of illicit drug use and infectious disease are well documented, though typically this connection is thought to occur through lifestyle choices and increased exposure,” said John Wherry, Deputy Editor of the
Study was published in Journal of Leukocyte Biology.