Tumor necrosis factor-alpha levels in HIV-1 seropositive injecting drug users

J Neuroimmune Pharmacol. 2009 Sep;4(3):350-8. doi: 10.1007/s11481-009-9150-x. Epub 2009 Apr 4.


TNF-alpha is a highly pleiotropic cytokine and plays an important role in regulating HIV-1 replication. It may compromise the integrity of the blood-brain-barrier and, thus, may contribute to the neurotoxicity of HIV-1-infection. Both intravenous drug abuse (IDU) and HIV infection can increase TNF-alpha activity, but little information is available on the effects of a combination of these factors on TNF-alpha. We investigated plasma TNF-alpha levels and mRNA in the peripheral monocytes of 166 men and women in three groups: HIV-1-positive IDUs, HIV-1-negative IDUs, and HIV-negative non-IDU control participants. HIV-1-positive IDUs had higher TNF-alpha levels than HIV-1-negative IDUs who, in turn, had higher levels than controls. TNF-alpha mRNA expression in peripheral monocytes was significantly increased in both HIV-1-positive and negative IDUs compared to controls. These findings show that the effects of HIV infection and intravenous drug use may be additive in increasing TNF-alpha levels. Given the multiple effects of TNF-alpha in HIV infection, additional investigation of its role is needed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Cell Separation
  • Cold Temperature
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • HIV Seropositivity / complications
  • HIV Seropositivity / epidemiology
  • HIV Seropositivity / metabolism*
  • HIV-1*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Monocytes / metabolism
  • Pressure
  • RNA / biosynthesis
  • RNA / isolation & purification
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / complications
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / epidemiology
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / metabolism*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / biosynthesis
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism*
  • Young Adult


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • RNA