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The Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor Citalopram Decreases Human Immunodeficiency Virus Receptor and Coreceptor Expression in Immune Cells

Published:November 07, 2015DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2015.11.003

      Abstract

      Background

      This study investigated whether the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) citalopram downregulates the expression of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) receptor cluster of differentiation 4 (CD4) and coreceptors chemokine receptor type 5 and chemokine-related receptor type 4 (CCR5 and CXCR4) on peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and macrophages ex vivo as a potential mechanism of reducing susceptibility to HIV infection.

      Methods

      The sample included 150 participants 18–58 years old (59% women, 65% African American, 61% with depression). Monocyte-depleted PBMCs were treated with phytohemagglutinin for 72 hours and then cultured in the presence of interleukin-2 with vehicle control or the SSRI (10−6 mol/L) for 2 hours. To generate monocyte-derived macrophages, monocytes were cultured for 7 days, after which either vehicle control or SSRI (10−6 mol/L) was added for 2 hours. RNA was collected from both cell types, and messenger RNA expression of CD4, CCR5, and CXCR4 was measured by real-time polymerase chain reaction.

      Results

      In PBMCs, SSRI treatment decreased expression of CD4 (p = .009), CCR5 (p = .008), and CXCR4 (p < .0001). In monocyte-derived macrophages, SSRI treatment decreased expression of CD4 (p < .0001) and CXCR4 (p = .0003), but not CCR5 (p = .71). The suppressive effects of the SSRI on receptor expression did not differ as a function of depression diagnosis or depressive symptom severity.

      Conclusions

      Treatment with the SSRI at a physiologic dose decreased CD4, CCR5, and CXCR4 expression on PBMCs and macrophages ex vivo. These findings suggest that SSRI treatment, independent of depression status, downregulates HIV receptor and coreceptor expression and may reduce susceptibility of immune cells to HIV infection and decrease inflammation. If clinical trials confirm the present findings, ultimately there may be a role for using SSRI treatment adjunctively in HIV and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.

      Keywords

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