Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Heavy drinking can hasten the progression of the simian immunodeficiency virus disease

Alcohol abuse can impair a person's immune system.
Alcohol abuse is also very common among individuals infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
New findings indicate that heavy drinking can accelerate time to AIDS among rhesus macaques infected with simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV).

Alcohol abuse can impair a person's immune system, leading to infections like pneumonia. Alcohol abuse is also more common among individuals already infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) than among the population as a whole. New research findings show that chronic binge drinking can accelerate the progression of end-stage simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) among rhesus macaques, likely mimicking what happens to humans infected with HIV.

Results are published in the October issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

"Previous research has found that HIV-infected people are more likely to consume alcohol than the general population," said Gregory J. Bagby, professor of physiology and medicine at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center and corresponding author for the study. "One very recent study conducted in Miami, for example, found that more than 60 percent of its HIV-infected participants reported heavy alcohol use."

Bagby said that the protracted nature of HIV disease, along with the complex behaviors of HIV+ patients, makes the study of alcohol consumption or abuse on HIV-disease progression extremely difficult.

"While alcohol abuse is known to impair immune defenses," he said, "resulting in a higher incidence and severity of infections – especially pneumonia – the adverse consequences of heavy alcohol consumption on the HIV-infected patient as it relates to disease progression are poorly understood. The few studies that exist have failed to find an association between alcohol use and HIV disease progression. For this reason, we adopted the rhesus macaque SIV model of HIV disease in order to more effectively isolate the effect of alcohol consumption on infectivity, pathogenesis and progression."

"The key issue with alcohol consumption and HIV/AIDS is when to start individuals on life-saving antiretrovirals versus the need to avoid their toxic effects that damage the liver and gut along with the alcohol," added Kendall Bryant, coordinator of HIV/AIDS research at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. "This 'set point,' which is unobserved, is not characterized by traditional measures of disease status. Dr. Bagby's research suggests that the speed of progression of AIDS – at least for alcohol users – is in part set by past and current drinking very early on in the disease. This tells us that we need to get HIV+ alcohol users into treatment much earlier in order to reduce their alcohol use."

For 12 weeks, study authors administered alcohol to 16 male rhesus macaques for five hours on four consecutive days per week via an indwelling intragastric catheter in order to attain a blood alcohol concentration of 0.23 to 0.28 percent. This would be considered the human equivalent of "chronic binge drinking." Control rhesus macaques (n=16 males) were given a sucrose solution under the same conditions. After three months, eight alcohol-treated and eight sucrose-treated macaques were inoculated with 10,000 times the ID50 of SIVDeltaB670 and followed to end-stage disease. Eight alcohol-treated and eight sucrose-treated macaques were not infected with SIV.

"There are two key findings," said Bagby. "First, chronic binge alcohol consumption accelerated time to AIDS of rhesus macaques infected with SIV, a virus that mimics what happens to humans infected with HIV. The average time to end-stage disease was decreased from 900 days in control animals to 374 days in the alcohol-treated rhesus monkeys. Second, animals receiving alcohol had higher viral loads in the blood in the early months after being infected with the virus. This higher viral load is associated with more rapid disease progression in both SIV-infected rhesus macaques and HIV-infected humans. Because SIV infection in rhesus macaques is so similar to what happens in HIV infected humans, we can expect that alcohol would have similar consequences in humans."

"The study gives us one more piece of the puzzle about the complex effects of alcohol on the progression of HIV disease," said Bryant. "What people don't realize is how complex the life cycle of the virus is and how it interacts in a very directed way with host characteristics such as drinking. We want to lengthen the life of HIV-infected individuals so that they can live a life as anyone with a chronic disease that needs to be managed. If these findings are confirmed in HIV+ individuals, the prevention implications are that both past and current alcohol use impacts disease progression and that many additional years of life will be lost if one continues to drink while infected."

Bagby noted that although his study implicates alcohol abuse as a cofactor in accelerating SIV disease progression and, by extrapolation, HIV disease – the exact mechanisms by which this occurs remain unclear.

"Each episode of alcohol intoxication can suppress multiple elements of immune function in humans," he said. "This suppression can be largely responsible for the increased incidence of infections such as pneumonia. However, chronic alcohol consumption can also stimulate the immune system, leading to diseases like hepatitis. In this case, perhaps both effects of alcohol are involved: immunosuppression could increase the incidence of opportunistic infections, and immune stimulation could activate cells infected with the virus, causing more cells to become infected."

Notwithstanding what mechanisms may be involved, both Bagby and Bryant said that HIV+ individuals must realize that heavy alcohol consumption can accelerate disease progression to AIDS and death.

"We also need to prioritize questions and realize that the HIV epidemic is still with us and that it is growing in many countries with few health resources," said Bryant. "Alcohol use is an important modifiable factor in the AIDS epidemic. It should not be overlooked or underfunded."

Kendall Bryant | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht NIH scientists describe potential antibody treatment for multidrug-resistant K. pneumoniae
14.03.2018 | NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

nachricht Researchers identify key step in viral replication
13.03.2018 | University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>