Publication Abstract Display
Type: Published Manuscript
Title: Polygenic networks in peripheral leukocytes indicate patterns associated with HIV infection and context-dependent effects of cannabis use.
Authors: Basova LV, Lukkes SE, Milner R, Ellis RJ, Cherner M, Iudicello J, Marcondes MCG
Year: 2022
Publication: Brain, Behavior, & Immunity - Health
Volume: 20 Issue: Pages: 100414
Abstract:In spite of suppressive antiretroviral therapies (ART), Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)-infected subjects still experience the consequences of viral persistence and chronic inflammation. In the brain, where most HIV-1 targets are of innate immune origin, neurological and cognitive impairments are detectable and enhanced by highly prevalent substance use disorders. Cannabis is one of the most prevalent substances among HIV+ ​subjects, compared to non-infected populations, either prescribed for improving various symptoms or used recreationally, as well as a component of polysubstance use. The mechanisms by which addictive substances and HIV interact are multifactorial and poorly understood. Importantly, the HIV brain target cells, macrophages and microglia, express receptors to neurotransmitters elevated by such drugs, and express receptors to cannabinoids, particularly CB2R. We have tested a panel of 784 transcripts associated with neurological disorders, digitally multiplexed and detectable in peripheral blood cells from a small cohort (n ​= ​102) of HIV-positive (HIV+) and HIV-negative (HIV-) specimens, stratified based on criteria of lifetime (LT) dependence of cannabis (CAN+) or not (CAN-). Demographic homogeneity and low incidence of co-morbidities helped increase power and allowed the identification of key differences consistent with HIV infection, cannabis exposure, or their interactions. A small percentage of these subjects used cannabis as well as other drugs. The data was analyzed using robust systems and visualization strategies to detect orchestrated patterns in gene networks connected based on molecular interfaces with higher power than in single genes. We found that the effects of cannabis differed drastically between HIV- and HIV+ ​groups, particularly in gene networks playing a role in inflammation, neurodegeneration, apoptosis and leukocyte adhesion and transmigration. At the level of individual genes, we identified detrimental effects that were associated with polysubstance use as a covariate, particularly methamphetamine. Transcription factor usage predictions suggest that the effects of cannabis are associated with transcriptional co-regulation at the gene promoters by multiple factors that vary by context. Overall, we have found that the effects of cannabis may be context-dependent, with potential benefits in the context of HIV reflected by improvements in cognition, but in the absence of the polysubstance use component.

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