Methadone induces CCR5 and promotes AIDS virus infection

Shunji Suzuki, Maria P. Carlos, Linda F. Chuang, Jose V Torres, Roy H. Doi, Ronald Y. Chuang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Methadone, a regimen for the treatment of opioid dependency, was found to induce the expression of CCR5, a co-receptor for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/simian form of HIV (SIV) entry, on human CEM x174 lymphocytes. Both CCR5 mRNA and protein were elevated in methadone-treated cells. A concomitant increase of mu opioid receptors was also observed. Upon methadone exposure, SIVmac239-infected CEM x174 cells released greater amounts of virus particles as revealed by both the number of syncytia formation and reverse transcriptase activities. Similar methadone effect was not observed on CEM x174 cells infected with other simian retroviruses that do not depend on CCR5 for cellular entry. These studies raise concerns considering methadone as an innocuous morphine substitute.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-177
Number of pages5
JournalFEBS Letters
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - May 22 2002


  • Chemokine receptor CCR5
  • Lymphocyte
  • Methadone
  • Mu opioid receptor
  • SIVmac239

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Biophysics
  • Molecular Biology


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