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Am J Pathol. 2010 Jul;177(1):355-61. doi: 10.2353/ajpath.2010.090953. Epub 2010 May 20.

Methamphetamine increases brain viral load and activates natural killer cells in simian immunodeficiency virus-infected monkeys.

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  • 1Molecular and Integrative Neurosciences Department, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California, USA.


Methamphetamine (Meth) abuse increases risky behaviors that contribute to the spread of HIV infection. In addition, because HIV and Meth independently affect physiological systems including the central nervous system, HIV-induced disease may be more severe in drug users. We investigated changes in blood and brain viral load as well as differences in immune cells in chronically simian immunodeficiency virus-infected rhesus macaques that were either administered Meth or used as controls. Although Meth administration did not alter levels of virus in the plasma, viral load in the brain was significantly increased in Meth-treated animals compared with control animals. Meth treatment also resulted in an activation of natural killer cells. Given the prevalence of Meth use in HIV-infected and HIV at-risk populations, these findings reveal the likely untoward effects of Meth abuse in such individuals.

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