New study shows no relationship between substance abuse and immune health

Recreational drug use and T lymphocyte subpopulations in HIV-uninfected and HIV-infected men.

Chao C, Jacobson LP, Tashkin D, Martínez-Maza O, Roth MD, Margolick JB, Chmiel JS, Rinaldo C, Zhang ZF, Detels R.

The effects of recreational drugs on CD4 and CD8 T cells in humans are not well understood. We conducted a longitudinal analysis of men who have sex with men (MSM) enrolled in the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS) to define associations between self-reported use of marijuana, cocaine, poppers and amphetamines, and CD4 and CD8 T cell parameters in both HIV-uninfected and HIV-infected MSM. For the HIV-infected MSM, we used clinical and laboratory data collected semiannually before 1996 to avoid potential effects of antiretroviral treatment. A regression model that allowed random intercepts and slopes as well as autoregressive covariance structure for within subject errors was used. Potential confounders adjusted for included length of follow-up, demographics, tobacco smoking, alcohol use, risky sexual behaviors, history of sexually transmitted infections, and antiviral therapy. We found no clinically meaningful associations between use of marijuana, cocaine, poppers, or amphetamines and CD4 and CD8 T cell counts, percentages, or rates of change in either HIV-uninfected or -infected men. The regression coefficients were of minimum magnitude despite some reaching statistical significance. No threshold effect was detected for frequent (at least weekly) or continuous substance use in the previous year. These results indicate that use of these substances does not adversely affect the numbers and percentages of circulating CD4 or CD8 T cells in either HIV-uninfected or -infected MSM.

PMID: 18180115 [PubMed - in process]