Effects of Oral Cannabinoids on Systemic Inflammation and Viral Reservoir Markers in People with HIV on Antiretroviral Therapy: Results of the CTN PT028 Pilot Clinical Trial Mboumba Bouassa, Ralph-Sydney; Comeau, Eve; Alexandrova, Yulia; Pagliuzza, Amélie; Yero, Alexis; Samarani, Suzanne; Needham, Judy; Singer, Joel; Lee, Terry C. K; Bobeuf, Florian; et al.
Chronic HIV infection is characterized by persistent inflammation despite antiretroviral therapy (ART). Cannabinoids may help reduce systemic inflammation in people with HIV (PWH). To assess the effects of oral cannabinoids during HIV, ten PWH on ART were randomized (n = 5/group) to increasing doses of oral Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): cannabidiol (CBD) combination (2.5:2.5–15:15 mg/day) capsules or CBD-only (200–800 mg/day) capsules for 12 weeks. Blood specimens were collected prospectively 7–21 days prior to treatment initiation and at weeks 0 to 14. Plasma cytokine levels were determined via Luminex and ELISA. Immune cell subsets were characterized by flow cytometry. HIV DNA/RNA were measured in circulating CD4 T-cells and sperm by ultra-sensitive qPCR. Results from both arms were combined for statistical analysis. Plasma levels of IFN-γ, IL-1β, sTNFRII, and REG-3α were significantly reduced at the end of treatment (p ˂ 0.05). A significant decrease in frequencies of PD1+ memory CD4 T-cells, CD73+ regulatory CD4 T-cells, and M-DC8+ intermediate monocytes was also observed (p ˂ 0.05), along with a transient decrease in CD28–CD57+ senescent CD4 and CD8 T-cells. Ki-67+ CD4 T-cells, CCR2+ non-classical monocytes, and myeloid dendritic cells increased over time (p ˂ 0.05). There were no significant changes in other inflammatory markers or HIV DNA/RNA levels. These findings can guide future large clinical trials investigating cannabinoid anti-inflammatory properties.
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