Researchers to study effects of tobacco smoke and opiates on HIV patients
The research at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine is funded by a $3.25 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Backed by a $3.25 million grant, researchers from Temple’s Lewis Katz School of Medicine will evaluate the little-understood intersection of tobacco smoke and opiate use in patients infected with HIV.
The research, led by Yuri Persidsky, chair and professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, and Thomas Rogers, director of the Center for Inflammation, Translational and Clinical Lung Research and professor of pharmacology, will specifically study the effects of tobacco smoke and opiates on tissue damage in the brain, lungs and other organs in HIV patients.
“The combination of tobacco smoke and opioid abuse is highly prevalent in HIV-infected individuals, creating a deadly combination that may lead to neuronal dysfunction or cognitive decline,” Persidsky said. “There are also consequences for the lungs, since the HIV infection in certain individuals can itself lead to obstructive lung disease in the absence of tobacco smoke.”
Estimates indicate at least a third of HIV patients in the U.S. to be intravenous opiate abusers and at least two-thirds to use tobacco.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse awarded the funding, to be used over five years. The inquiry into the combination of opiate use and tobacco smoke represents an uncharted frontier in the HIV research realm.
“Prior studies never addressed the combined effects of opiates and tobacco smoke in the progression of HIV infection and its associated neurodegeneration,” Rogers said. “It is well documented that opiates, such as morphine and heroin, and tobacco smoke modulate systemic inflammation and also contribute to chronic inflammatory diseases in both the brain and the lungs.”
Inflammation caused by tobacco smoke in the lungs may lead to enhanced damage to the brain, Rogers added.
The research represents a collaboration between the medical school’s Department of Pathology and Temple’s Center for Inflammation, Translational and Clinical Lung Research.