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Epidemiological studies have demonstrated that the use of methamphetamine (meth),
a sympathomimetic stimulant, is particularly common among patients infected with HIV.
However, there is a lack of direct evidence that meth promotes HIV infection of target
cells. This study examined whether meth is able to enhance HIV infection of macrophages,
the primary target site for the virus. Meth treatment resulted in a significant and
dose-dependent increase of HIV reverse transcriptase activity in human blood monocyte-derived
macrophages. Dopamine D1 receptor antagonists (SCH23390 and SKF83566) blocked this
meth-mediated increase in the HIV infectivity of macrophages. Investigation of the
underlying mechanisms of meth action showed that meth up-regulated the expression
of the HIV entry co-receptor CCR5 on macrophages. Additionally, meth inhibited the
expression of endogenous interferon-alpha and signal transducer and activator of transcription-1
in macrophages. These findings provide direct in vitro evidence to support the possibility
that meth may function as a cofactor in the immunopathogenesis of HIV infection and
may lead to the future development of innate immunity-based intervention for meth
users with HIV infection.