Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Anabolic steroid and HIV therapy

Sometimes, athletes who use anabolic steroids may share the needles, syringes or other equipment they use to inject these drugs. By sharing needles, syringes or other equipment, a person becomes a high risk for HIV transmission. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. If a person shares needles, syringes and other equipment to inject steroids into the vein (IV), in the muscles or under the skin, small amounts of blood from the person infected with HIV may be injected into the bloodstream of the next person to use the equipment.

HIV attacks the body's defense system, making the body less able to fight off infections and cancers. There's no vaccine or cure for HIV or AIDS. People who may have been exposed to HIV should be tested. If they find out they have the virus, they can start treatment early. You can't tell just be looking at someone if he or she has HIV. And, since someone can be infected with HIV for many years without having any symptoms, some people may not know they have HIV. Anyone who has ever shared a needle to shoot any drugs even once could become infected with HIV and should be tested.

These have shown some benefit in a variety of human disorders, including HIV-related muscle wasting and other catabolic conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, severe burn injuries, and alcoholic hepatitis. Because of their diverse biological actions, anabolic steroids have been used to treat a variety of other conditions, including bone marrow failure syndromes, constitutional growth retardation in children, and hereditary angioedema.

Anabolic steroid side effect, safety, risks and danger:

Anabolic steroid therapy is associated with various side effects that are generally dose related, therefore, illicit use of mega doses for the purpose of bodybuilding and enhancement of athletic performance can lead to serious and irreversible organ damage. The most common side effects of anabolic steroids are some degree of masculinization in women and children, behavioral changes (eg, aggression), liver damage, and alteration of blood lipid levels and coagulation factors. Anabolic steroids could also raise levels of homo cysteine. Bodybuilders who used the muscle-building anabolic steroids have increased levels of homo cysteine, an amino acid tied to increased mortality, heart disease risk and blood vessel damage.

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is the virus that causes AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome). The HIV retrovirus may be passed from one person to another when infected blood, semen, vaginal secretions or other bodily fluids come in contact with an uninfected person's broken skin or mucous membranes. People with HIV have what is called HIV infection and are fit and well. Some of these people will develop AIDS as a result of their HIV infection. Growth hormone is a popular bodybuilding and performance enhancing aid, and the use of recombinant human growth hormone (rHGH, or simply GH) to treat various conditions in HIV infection has been debated with excitement for years. Indeed it is licensed for the treatment of wasting syndrome in advanced stages of AIDS. GH is also a commonly used bodybuilding and performance enhancing drug, which can be purchased on the black market; used to help both muscle anabolism / strength and reduction in body fat levels. Both of these applications have possible significance in the treatment of HIV.

Other than in the treatment of wasting disease, results from the studies using rHGH to treat body changes associated with HIV and/or drugs used to treat HIV have been very favourable. One which has been studied extensively is the use of rHGH in reducing HIV-associated adipose redistribution syndrome (HARS). However, the positive effects of HGH treatment in HIV may be more direct. Several studies have proposed that rHGH may bolster the immune system in ways that might improve clinical outcomes in HIV. HIV-associated adipose redistribution syndrome (HARS)
HARS is a type of lipodystrophy (abnormal distribution of body fat), where there is accumulation of excess truncal fat and visceral adipose tissue, as opposed to regular gynoid (glutes and hips) or android (abdomen) deposition. This is observed in HIV infected people, moreso as virus load increases. Although not a debilitating condition in itself (indeed extra body fat can prolong life if followed by wasting), HARS is unpleasant for the individual, giving reduced confidence in body image; another negative aspect of the disease.

rHGH therapy has been shown to significantly reduce HARS, leading to an improved body image, and significant improvement in psychological well-being. Numerous studies have demonstrated the benefits of this, leading to rHGH being licesenced for the treatment of HARS in some countries. It should also be noted that improvement in psychological well-being could also contribute to a positive clinical outcome, in that it reduces the effects of wasting.

Immune system:

Of most interest in HIV therapy are the possible benefits of rHGH use on the immune system, since HIV's primary adverse effect is reduction in the immune system. It has been clearly demonstrated that rHGH does benefit the immune system, but the method by which it helps is still under debate. One theory is that rHGH may stimulate renewal of the thymus gland, an important organ in the immune system. This may, in turn, lead to improved immune health in people with HIV. Studies are now examining whether or not renewing thymus tissue leads to better health and longer survival.

The thymus is necessary for developing new T-lymphocytes, which are key immune cells in the defense against disease, and numbers of which steadily reduce in HIV as infection progresses. In particular the thymus gland is involved in the development of CD4+ and CD8+ cells, and it is the CD4+ level which is a very critical marker in HIV outcome. Without some thymus activity, immune reconstitution that produces a wide range of functional CD4+ cells is not believed to be possible. Thus, the state of the thymus in HIV disease and how therapies affect it are of great interest to those researching ways to restore the immune system.

Napolitano et al (2002) researched rHGH and its impact on the thymus in HIV. Doses ranged from 1.5 (4.5IU) to 3.0mg (9IU) per day for 6–12 months in healthy HIV volunteers. After six months, marked increases in thymus mass were noted, beyond what has been seen using anti-HIV therapy alone. This increase was sustained during the course of rHGH therapy and correlated with a higher CD4+ count, suggesting that the thymus is functioning properly and helping make new T-cells, further suggesting a stronger immune system. When rHGH was stopped, there was a loss of thymus mass; however, CD4+ cell count increases seen over the course of therapy were sustained despite this loss of mass.

Napolitano later (2003) did a twenty-person study using 3mg (9IU) rHGH a day injected under the skin (subcutaneous injection). This was followed by 1.5mg (4.5IU) rHGH a day for another six months, for a total of one year of daily therapy. Of the 20 volunteers (all of whom stayed on anti-HIV therapy during the study), ten took one year of rHGH according to the schedule described above while the other ten were merely observed. After one year, the group on rHGH stopped therapy and were observed for a second year, while the group who hadn't taken rHGH therapy then started one year of it. The size of the thymus increased in those on rHGH during the first year, but not among the second group. Those on rHGH had a significant increase in thymus mass while those only on anti-HIV therapy actually had a slight decrease. Interestingly the most pronounced increase in both naïve and total CD4+ cell counts were seen among those on rHGH with a rise in the hormone IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor-1) which is also associated with immune function. In subjects with pronounced increase in IGF-1 levels due to rHGH use, naïve cells increased by 95% and CD4+ increased by 25%.

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