Anew study has shown that chronic intake of THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, can protect critical immune tissue in the gut from the damaging effects of HIV infection. Patricia Molina and coauthors from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans, report that chronic THC administration was associated with greater survival of T cell populations and reduced overall cell death in the gut in monkeys, which is known to be a key target for simian immunodeficiency virus (HIV) replication and infection-related inflammation.
“To better treat HIV infection, we need a better understanding of how it causes the disease we call AIDS. We also need alternative approaches to treatment, This study is important because it begins to explain how THC can influence disease progression in SIV-infected macaques. It also reveals a new way to slow disease progression,” Thomas Hope, Professor of Cell and Molecular Biology at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, said. The study was published in the journal AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses.