Study shows caffeine may actually slow HIV progression/transduction?

Question

Dr. Bob,

First off thank you so much for adding some needed levity to our situation. You've helped make smiling easier in a very difficult time in my life.

I spend at least an hour a day researching new and past developments in the fight on HIV/AIDS and recently came across this study involving caffeine done by the Center for Human Virology and Biodefense back in 2004. Here is the study Abstract: "Caffeine is an efficient inhibitor of DNA repair and DNA damage-activated checkpoints. We have shown recently that caffeine inhibits retroviral transduction of dividing cells, most likely by blocking postintegration repair. This effect may be mediated at least in part by a cellular target of caffeine, the ataxia telangiectasia-mutated and Rad3-related (ATR) kinase. In this study, we present evidence that caffeine also inhibits efficient transduction of nondividing cells. We observed reduced transduction in caffeine-treated growth-arrested cells as well as caffeine-treated terminally differentiated human neurons and macrophages. Furthermore, this deficiency was observed with a human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) vector lacking Vpr, indicating that the effect is independent of the presence of this viral protein in the infecting virion. Finally, we show that HIV-1 transduction of nocodazole-arrested cells is reduced in cells that express an ATR dominant-negative protein (kinase-dead ATR [ATRkd]) and that the residual transduction of ATRkd-expressing cells is relatively resistant to caffeine. Taken together, these data suggest that the effect(s) of caffeine on HIV-1 transduction is mediated at least partly by the inhibition of the ATR pathway but is not dependent on the caffeine-mediated inhibition of cell cycle checkpoints."

What do you make of it? Have you heard of this before? Since we both share an affinity for caffeine I thought you would be the person to ask.

Thanks again for all of your help,

Alive and well

Answer

Hello,

This is a rather complex study that was attempting to elucidate some biochemical pathways and show the effect of caffeine on these pathways. It's a very preliminary and not unexpected finding. It does not suggest that a venti double shot mocha cappuccino is going to be the next thing we add to our HAART regimens. But then again, who needs a scientific reason to enjoy a great cup of java, right?

Be well. Stay well. Drink coffee!

Dr. Bob