Molecular basis for interactions of HIV and drugs of abuse

Avi Nath, Kurt F. Hauser, Valerie Wojna, Rosemarie M. Booze, William Maragos, Mark Prendergast, Wayne Cass, Jadwiga T. Turchan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

211 Scopus citations


In certain populations around the world, the HIV pandemic is being driven by drug-abusing populations. Mounting evidence suggests that these patient populations have accelerated and more severe neurocognitive dysfunction compared with non-drug-abusing HIV-infected populations. Because most drugs of abuse are central nervous system stimulants, it stands to reason that these drugs may synergize with neurotoxic substances released during the course of HIV infection. Clinical and laboratory evidence suggests that the dopaminergic systems are most vulnerable to such combined neurotoxicity. Identifying common mechanisms of neuronal injury is critical to developing therapeutic strategies for drug-abusing HIV-infected populations. This article reviews 1) the current evidence for neurodegeneration in the setting of combined HIV infection and use of methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin or alcohol; 2) the proposed underlying mechanisms involved in this combined neurotoxicity; and 3) future directions for research. This article also suggests therapeutic approaches based on our current understanding of the neuropathogenesis of dementia due to HIV infection and drugs of abuse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S62-S69
JournalJournal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
Issue numberSUPPL. 2
StatePublished - Oct 1 2002


  • Brain
  • Cocaine
  • Dementia
  • Dopa-mine
  • HIV
  • Heroin
  • Methamphetamine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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