Drugs of Abuse and Infections

  • S. G. Bradley
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 288)


Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) affects the outcome of experimental laboratory infections. There is no unambiguous proof to date that use of marijuana increases susceptibility of humans to infectious agents. One complication in assessing epidemiologic data is that the population at risk frequently uses several substances with abuse potential. THC and gram-negative bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) elicit a number of similar pathophysiologic changes. In addition, cannabinoids administered in combination with bacterial LPS elicit enhanced adverse effects. THC possesses antimicrobial activity and may act as a chemotherapeutic agent. THC impairs the humoral and delayed type immune response in mice, and depresses production of various mediators. Mice rendered tolerant to THC also become less responsive to LPS. In addition, the genetically LPS resistant C3H/HeJ mouse is less responsive to THC than the LPS susceptible C3H/HeDub mouse. Chronic users of marijuana therefore may experience paradoxical consequences as drug tolerance develops. Experimental laboratory animal studies have established that the effects of THC on host resistance to infections are determined by genetic factors, history of drug exposure and treatment with prescription drugs.


Herpes Simplex Virus Type Host Resistance Genital Herpes Cannabis User Sheep Erythrocyte 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. G. Bradley
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Basic Health SciencesVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA

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