Short circuit: Disaggregation of adrenocorticotropic hormone and cortisol levels in HIV-positive, methamphetamine-using men who have sex with men

Adam Carrico, Violeta J. Rodriguez, Deborah Jones, Mahendra Kumar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


Objective: This study examined if methamphetamine use alone (METH + HIV−) and methamphetamine use in combination with HIV (METH + HIV+) were associated with hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis dysregulation as well as insulin resistance relative to a nonmethamphetamine-using, HIV-negative comparison group (METH-HIV−). Methods: Using an intact groups design, serum levels of HPA axis hormones in 46 METH + HIV− and 127 METH + HIV+ men who have sex with men (MSM) were compared to 136 METH-HIV− men. Results: There were no group differences in prevailing adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) or cortisol levels, but the association between ACTH and cortisol was moderated by METH + HIV+ group (β = −0.19, p <.05). Compared to METH-HIV− men, METH + HIV+ MSM displayed 10% higher log10 cortisol levels per standard deviation lower ACTH. Both groups of methamphetamine-using MSM had lower insulin resistance and greater syndemic burden (i.e., sleep disturbance, severe depression, childhood trauma, and polysubstance use disorder) compared to METH-HIV− men. However, the disaggregated functional relationship between ACTH and cortisol in METH + HIV+ MSM was independent of these factors. Conclusions: Further research is needed to characterize the bio-behavioral pathways that explain dysregulated HPA axis functioning in HIV-positive, methamphetamine-using MSM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2645
JournalHuman Psychopharmacology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018



  • adrenocorticotropic hormone
  • cortisol
  • HIV
  • insulin
  • methamphetamine
  • Syndemic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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