, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 503-515
Date: 16 Jul 2011

Cocaine and HIV-1 Interplay: Molecular Mechanisms of Action and Addiction

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Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection is now being driven by drug-abusing populations. Epidemiological studies on drug abusers with AIDS link abuse of cocaine, even more than other drugs, to increased incidence of HIV seroprevalence and progression to AIDS. Both cell culture and animal studies demonstrate that cocaine can both potentiate HIV replication and can potentiate HIV proteins to cause enhanced glial cell activation, neurotoxicity, and breakdown of the blood-brain barrier. Based on the ability of both HIV proteins and cocaine to modulate NMDA receptor on neurons, NMDA receptors have been suggested as a common link underlying the crosstalk between drug addiction and HIV infection. While the role of dopamine system as a major target of cocaine cannot be overlooked, recent studies on the role of sigma receptors in mediating the effects of cocaine in both cell and organ systems warrants a deeper understanding of their functional role in the field. In this review, recent findings on the interplay of HIV infection and cocaine abuse and their possible implications in mode of action and/or addiction will be discussed.