This subproject is one of many research subprojects utilizing the resources provided by a Center grant funded by NIH/NCRR. Primary support for the subproject and the subproject's principal investigator may have been provided by other sources, including other NIH sources. The Total Cost listed for the subproject likely represents the estimated amount of Center infrastructure utilized by the subproject, not direct funding provided by the NCRR grant to the subproject or subproject staff. 9-THC is the major psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana. Advanced understanding of its pharmacology and the major cannabinoid receptor subtypes (CB1 and CB2) as well as their localization (CB2 predominantly on B lymphocytes and natural killer cells) has resulted in identification of multisystemic biomedical effects. Particularly important is the potential of 9-THC modulation of immune function in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infected individuals. Our studies indicate that chronic 9-THC treatment attenuates viral load and tissue inflammation in simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infected non-human primates, significantly decreasing morbidity and mortality from SIV infection. In addition, 9-THC decreased viral replication in an in vitro assay. While the ability of cannabinoids to suppress inflammation and viral replication has been reported by others and confirmed by our ongoing studies, the mechanisms involved are not known. Preliminary data obtained in preparation for this project revealed increased expression of a distinct miRNA profile associated with decreased immune activation and anti-inflammatory properties (based on predicted targets) in CD4+ T lymphocytes, intestinal mucosa, and brain of THC-treated SIV infected animals. These findings clearly suggest that the overall mechanisms mediating the protective effects of cannabinoids involve novel epigenomic regulatory factors/mechanisms in need of systematic investigation. The overall hypothesis of this proposal is that chronic 9-THC treatment decreases proinflammatory gene expression and viral replication through epigenomic (non-coding RNAs and DNA methylation) mechanisms. As a result, chronic cannabinoid treatment delays disease progression in SIV-infected non-human primates. Seven animals have been assigned (2 THC+ SIV+, 2 THC-/SIV+, 2 THC+/SIV-, 1 Vehicle only control) to the study for year 1 and the project is currently in progress.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Center for Research Resources (NCRR)
Primate Research Center Grants (P51)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRR1-CM-8 (01))
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Tulane University
Obstetrics & Gynecology
Schools of Medicine
New Orleans
United States
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