In their study published in the June issue of the Journal of Neurovirology, the researchers found that methamphetamine exposure significantly increased the replication of FIV in certain brain cells called astrocytes, suggesting that the amount of FIV also may be increased in the brain. Astrocytes, star-shaped cells that comprise the largest cell population in the brain, provide structural and physiological support for brain neurons.
Dr. Glen R. Hanson, Acting Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), says, "It is well known that psychostimulants such as methamphetamine are detrimental to the immune system and can cause progressive neurodegeneration that may negatively affect the Central Nervous System and lead to dementia. This research suggests that we need to examine the possibility that there is a connection between methamphetamine use and a potential increase in HIV-related dementia."
The National Institute on Drug Abuse is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports more than 85 percent of the world's research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction. The Institute carries out a large variety of programs to ensure the rapid dissemination of research information and its implementation in policy and practice. Fact sheets on the health effects of drugs of abuse and other topics can be ordered free of charge in English and Spanish through NIDA Infofax at 1-888-NIH-NIDA (644-6432) or 1-888-TTY-NIDA (889-6432) for the deaf. These fact sheets and further information on NIDA research and other activities can be found on the NIDA home page at http://www.drugabuse.gov.