Combined In Vitro Effect of Marijuana and Retrovirus on the Activity of Mouse Natural Killer Cells

Joseph ONGRÁDI2, Steven SPECTER1, Attila HORVÁTH2, Herman FRIEDMAN1

1Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, College of Medicine, University of South Florida, Tampa, USA
2National Institute of Dermato-Venereology, Budapest, Hungary


Both marijuana and retroviruses impair natural killer (NK) cell functions. No data on their simulataneous effects are available. Similarities to human AIDS induced early by Friend leukemia complex (FLC) and its replication competent helper Rowson-Parr virus (RPV) provides a mouse model to study drug-virus action. Leukemia suscep-tible BALB/c and resistant C57BL/6 mice were infected, then at time intervals their nylon wool-separated splenocytes were exposed to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) for 3h.Natural killer (NK) cell activity against Yac-1 cells was assayed by 51Cr-release for 4 and 18h. Recovery of splenocytes was found to be suppressed by FLC, but in BALB/c only by RPV. After a transient enhancement in C57BL/6 by FLC, NK cell activity of both mice became suppressed early (2 to 4 days), normalized subsequently and enhanced late (11 to 14 days) postinfection. A moderate increase in BALB/c, no change in C57BL/6 were induced by low (1-2.5 µg/ml) THC doses. NK cell activity of BALB/c became suppressed exponentially by higher (5-10 µg/ ml) THC doses in 18h as compared to 4h assays, while its proportional and moderate impairment was seen in C57BL/6. The magnitude of NK cell activity of infected mice was determined by THC: enhancement or impairment followed those of untreated, infected counterparts, but on the level of THC-treated cells. Low doses hardly, high doses additively influenced NK cells of infected BALB/c. THC hardly affected very early and late enhancement in NK cell activiy of FLC infected C57BL/6, but augmented RPV induced suppression late in 18h assays. Genetic factors similar to endotoxin resistance, altered cytokine profile might determine these effects. Similar phenomena in humans might result in earlier manifestation of AIDS. Pathology & Oncology Research, Vol 4, Nr 3, 191-199, 1998

Key words: NK activity; retrovirus; marijuana; addition; mouse strains

Received: Apr 24, 1998; accepted: Jul 25, 1998
Correspondence: Joseph ONGRÁDI, National Institute of Dermato-Venereology, , Mária u. 41. Budapest H-1085, Hungary; Tel: +361-2660465/5717, Fax: +361-2104874; E-mail:

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