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How marijuana may infect immunity.

How marijuana may affect immunity

It has been known for years that smoking marijuana harmsthe body's immune system, says Eliezer Huberman of Argonne (Ill.) National Laboratory. His new cell-culture studies now suggest why. He has found that although tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, stimulates maturation of key immune-system cells called monocytes, "this maturation is defective.' Monocytes not only help stimulate antibody production, but also can kill and engulf foreign cells, like bacteria.

When Huberman treated "highly immature' monocyte-precursorcells with THC, the maturation suddenly stopped in a middle, incomplete stage. Huberman says that if similar monocyte impairment occurs in heavy marijuana smokers, it could heighten their susceptibility to infection. Details of the study will appear in the Aug. 15 PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES.
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Publication:Science News
Date:Jul 18, 1987
Words:128
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