Effects of Cannabinoids on HIV-1 Tat Protein Induction of Antibody Production in Mouse Splenocytes
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection is a worldwide epidemic. One of the proteins HIV encodes for is Tat, a trans-activating protein necessary for replication of the virus. For various health-specific reasons, many HIV -positive individuals use Cannabis, or marijuana, although the resulting immune effects in HIV positive patients remains unknown. Marijuana has shown to provide relief from many of the adverse effects of AIDS yet recent studies have demonstrated that marijuana suppresses the immune system. The hypothesis was that cells treated with Tat would induce an immune response via T cells and B cells in mouse splenocytes in vitro. The higher concentration of Tat used, the more intense (higher) amount of a T cell and B cell response. Furthermore, these immune effects due to Tat would be suppressed when cells were treated with cannabinoids, ∆9 -tetrahydrocananbinol (∆9 - THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). The more cannabinoids used, the greater the suppression of a Tat-induced immune response. The first goal of this study was to identify the immune effects of Tat alone, specifically by measuring Tat-induced T cell and B cell responses using ELISA to measure IL-2 and IgM concentrations, respectively. Exposing mouse splenocytes to varying Tat concentrations did affect resulting IL-2 and IgM production, yet not in a concentration dependent manner. Intracellular staining confirmed that Tat was inducing IgM production in live B cells through the use of fluorescence-activated cell sorting (F ACS). The second aim of this study was to test the effects of two cannabinoid compounds, ∆9-THC and CBD, on Tat-induced immune responses. The ELISA method further indicated that increasing concentrations of cannabinoids did not produce any effects on Tat-induced IL-2 ;tor IgM. In conclusion, Tat can induce IL-2 and IgM in vitro, yet the cannabinoids did not affect antibody production in response to Tat, which was unexpected since cannabinoids are immune suppressive. Thus, the cannabinoid effect on the anti-HIV immune response remains unclear and deem worthy of further investigation.
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