Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 38, Issue 3, pp 527–534 | Cite as

Differential effects of self-reported lifetime marijuana use on interleukin-1 alpha and tumor necrosis factor in African American adults

  • Larry KeenIIEmail author
  • Arlener D. Turner


It is unknown how lifetime marijuana use affects different proinflammatory cytokines. The purpose of the current study is to explore potential differential effects of lifetime marijuana use on interleukin-1 alpha (IL-1α) and tumor necrosis factor (TNF) in a community based sample. Participants included 168 African American adults (51 % female, median age = 47 years). Upon study entry, blood was drawn and the participants completed questions regarding illicit drug use history whose answers were used to create three groups: lifetime non-drug users (n = 77), lifetime marijuana only users (n = 46) and lifetime marijuana and other drug users (n = 45). In the presence of demographic and physiological covariates, non-drug users were approximately two times more likely (AOR 2.73, CI 1.18, 6.31; p = .03) to have higher TNF levels than marijuana only users. Drug use was not associated with IL-1α. The influence of marijuana may be selective in nature, potentially localizing around innate immunity and the induction of cellular death.


Marijuana Interleukin-1 Tumor necrosis factor African Americans Adults Immune function 



The parent study entitled Stress and Psychoneuroimmunological Factors in Renal Health and Disease, which is supported by a grant from the National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities (P20 MD000512).

Conflict of interest

Larry Keen II and Arlener D. Turner, declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

All procedures involving human participants in this study were performed in accordance with the ethical standards of the Howard University Institutional Review Board and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. In addition, informed consent was obtained from all individual participants prior to inclusion in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyVirginia State UniversityPetersburgUSA
  2. 2.Center of Excellence on Disparities in HIV and AgingRush University Medical CenterChicagoUSA

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