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New Government-Funded Study: Cannabis May Treat HIV-Associated Neuro Cognitive Disorders

A study being published in the upcoming issue of the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology, and e-published ahead of print yesterday (July 12, 2014) by the U.S. National Institute of Health (who also conducted the study), has found that cannabinoid agonists – such as cannabis – may attenuate HIV-associated neuro cognitive disorders in HIV patients on HAART (highly active antiretroviral therapy). The study also found that activation of the body’s cannabinoid receptors may “blunt brain injury by attenuating drug addiction”.

According to researchers of the study; “Despite the wide spread use of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), mild forms of HIV-associated neuro cognitive disorders (HAND) remain commonplace. HAART treated patients now show low levels of viremia and more subtle yet biologically important signs of brain macrophage and microglial activation. Adjunctive therapeutic strategies are required to eliminate HIV-1 infection and suppress immune activation and its associated neuroinflammation.”

They continue; “In this regard, cannabinoid receptor-2(CB2) activation is a promising means to attenuate HAND by inhibiting HIV replication, down regulating inflammation, and suppressing chemokine-like activity of viral neurotoxic proteins (for example, Tat and HIV-1gp120), and thereby prevent neuronal and synaptic loss. Inhibiting even low level HIV replication can attenuate neuronal injury by decreasing the production of neurotoxins. Down regulation of inflammation by CB2 activation is mediated through blunted activation of peri vascular macrophages and microglia; decreased production of tumor necrosis factor-α, chemokines and virotoxins. Down regulated neuroinflammation can decrease blood brain barrier permeability and leukocyte infiltration resulting in reduced neuronal injury.

Researchers conclude; “It is suggested that CB2 agonists may further attenuate HAND in HIV-infected patients on HAART. In addition, CB2 activation may also blunt brain injury by attenuating drug addiction.”

The study can be found by clicking here.