Aids, drugs of abuse and the immune system: A complex immunotoxicological network

Radhakrishna Pillai, Bindu S. Nair, Ronald R. Watson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Two of the most interesting questions often asked about AIDS is why many people do not become immunodeficient or get complicating disease when first infected with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and what are the "risk factors" making some individuals more susceptible to the disease. A large majority of people with AIDS have a well established history of drug and alcohol abuse. Both drugs of abuse and alcohol have immunotoxic properties as evidenced by a number of studies. These include marked changes in the cellular, humoral and other components of the immune defense mechanism. Such a compromise of the immune system can render it susceptible to the development of AIDS after HIV infection. This paper reviews the evidence suggesting possible links between substance abuse and its immunotoxicology, and their possible roles in the pathogenesis of AIDS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)609-617
Number of pages9
JournalArchives of Toxicology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 1991


  • AIDS
  • Drugs of abuse
  • Immune system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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