Safety and Tolerability of Oral Cannabinoids in People Living with HIV on Long-Term ART: A Randomized, Open-Label, Interventional Pilot Clinical Trial (CTNPT 028)


“Background: With anti-inflammatory properties, cannabinoids may be a potential strategy to reduce immune activation in people living with HIV (PLWH) but more information on their safety and tolerability is needed.

Methods: We conducted an open-label interventional pilot study at the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, Canada. PLWH were randomized to oral Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): cannabidiol (CBD) combination (THC 2.5 mg/CBD 2.5 mg) or CBD-only capsules (CBD 200 mg). Individuals titrated doses as tolerated to a maximum daily dose THC 15 mg/CBD 15 mg or 800 mg CBD, respectively, for 12 weeks. The primary outcome was the percentage of participants without any significant toxicity based on the WHO toxicity scale (Grades 0-2 scores).

Results: Out of ten individuals, eight completed the study. Two from the CBD-only arm were withdrawn for safety concerns: phlebotomy aggravating pre-existing anemia and severe hepatitis on 800 mg CBD with newly discovered pancreatic adenocarcinoma, respectively. Seven did not have any significant toxicity. Cannabinoids did not alter hematology/biochemistry profiles. CD4 count, CD4/CD8 ratio, and HIV suppression remained stable. Most adverse effects were mild-moderate.

Conclusions: In PLWH, cannabinoids seem generally safe and well-tolerated, though larger studies are needed. Screening for occult liver pathology should be performed and hepatic enzymes monitored, especially with high CBD doses.”

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