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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Morphine enhances hepatitis C virus (HCV) replicon expression.

Little information is available regarding whether substance abuse enhances hepatitis C virus (HCV) replication and promotes HCV disease progression. We investigated whether morphine alters HCV mRNA expression in HCV replicon-containing liver cells. Morphine significantly increased HCV mRNA expression, an effect which could be abolished by either of the opioid receptor antagonists, naltrexone or beta-funaltrexamine. Investigation of the mechanism responsible for this enhancement of HCV replicon expression demonstrated that morphine activated NF-kappaB promoter and that caffeic acid phenethyl ester, a specific inhibitor of the activation of NF-kappaB, blocked morphine-activated HCV RNA expression. In addition, morphine compromised the anti-HCV effect of interferon alpha (IFN-alpha). Our in vitro data indicate that morphine may play an important role as a positive regulator of HCV replication in human hepatic cells and may compromise IFN-alpha therapy.[1]


  1. Morphine enhances hepatitis C virus (HCV) replicon expression. Li, Y., Zhang, T., Douglas, S.D., Lai, J.P., Xiao, W.D., Pleasure, D.E., Ho, W.Z. Am. J. Pathol. (2003) [Pubmed]
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