Published on October 3, 2013 at 12:32 AM
The researchers caution that, as with all in vitro studies, the results may be skewed. Also, they based their research on an acute-that is, brief--cocaine exposure set-up; by contrast, typical drug users are chronic users, meaning that they take the narcotic over extended time. They do, however, have data from their animal models that support and strengthen their observations.
"We have shown that cocaine modulates the permissiveness of quiescent cells to HIV," the researchers conclude. "The potential for cocaine to augment the pool of HIV target cells with a commensurate increase in the viral reservoir has significant implications for HIV seropositive individuals who abuse or use stimulants such as cocaine."
The next stage in the research will be to more closely examine the means by which cocaine makes these once resistant cells susceptible to infection and if the drug does indeed lead to a higher viral reservoir, and to use humanized mouse models to study how drug abuse affects HIV infection as well as the efficacy of Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART).
Source: University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences