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J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2002 May 1;30(1):9-20.

Inhibition of morphine-potentiated HIV-1 replication in peripheral blood mononuclear cells with the nuclease-resistant 2-5A agonist analog, 2-5A(N6B).

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Department of Biochemistry, Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19140, USA.


Opioids potentiate HIV-1 infection in vitro at least partly by suppressing immunoresponsive processes in human lymphocytes and monocytes. For example, it appears that morphine inhibits the interferon (IFN)-alpha, -beta, and -gamma-mediated natural antiviral defense pathways in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). In this study, we show that restoration of a key component of the antiviral pathway reverses morphine-potentiated HIV-1 infection of human PBMC. The data show that HIV-1 replication is potentiated and RNase L activity is inhibited after morphine administration. Because HIV-1 inhibits the antiviral pathway at the level of 2',5'-oligoadenylate (2-5A) synthetase and p68 kinase, antiviral enzymes that require double-stranded RNA, we overcame this blockade by the addition of the nuclease-resistant, nontoxic 2-5A agonist, 2-5A(N6B), to PBMC in culture. Addition of 2-5A(N6B), but not zidovudine or saquinavir, to morphine-treated PBMC completely reversed the morphine-induced potentiation of HIV-1 infection. Further, 2-5A(N6B) significantly enhanced expression of both IFN-alpha and IFN-gamma. Also, increased expression of IFN-gamma was associated with a significant increase in expression of RANTES and monocyte chemotactic protein (MCP)-1, chemokines that may inhibit HIV-1 infection by blocking viral attachment to CCR2 and CCR5 co-receptors. Our results suggest that reactivation of the antiviral pathway by 2-5A agonists may be useful to inhibit opioid-potentiated HIV-1 replication.

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