HIV-1 and Cannabinoids

Guy A. Cabral and Erinn S. Raborn

in The Neurology of AIDS

Third edition

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780195399349
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199965199 | DOI:
HIV-1 and Cannabinoids

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  • Disorders of the Nervous System
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Marijuana, or Cannabis sativa, is a complex substance that contains a class of terpenoid-like compounds known as cannabinoids. These compounds can affect immune function directly by activating cannabinoid receptors on immune cells, and indirectly thorough their effect on neurons, which in turn alter the neuroendocrine axes. Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the major psychoactive component of marijuana, acts primarily to suppress immune function. Since many individuals with HIV use multiple drugs, often including marijuana, the possibility of additional immunosuppression from cannabinoids, perhaps acting synergistically with immunosuppressive effects of other drugs, is particularly relevant. There are at this time no data that directly link marijuana use in humans either to greater susceptibility to HIV infection or to increased vulnerability to opportunistic infection or disease progression in HIV-infected individuals. Nonetheless, various in vivo and in vitro studies show a link between cannabinoids, immune suppression, and greater susceptibility to infection with bacteria, protozoa, and viruses. This chapter reviews many aspects of the complex interactions among cannibis, immune suppression, and HIV infection.

Chapter.  9286 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Disorders of the Nervous System ; Infectious Diseases

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