Public Release: 

Ancient retrovirus and intravenous drug use

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

A study finds that a fragment of an ancient retrovirus called HK2, integrated in human ancestors before the emergence of Neanderthals near a gene that regulates dopaminergic activity, is found 2.5 times more frequently in a Greek population of 202 people who contracted HIV through intravenous drug use and 3.6 times more frequently in a hepatitis-C-positive UK population of 184 people infected through intravenous drug use, compared with control populations, suggesting that HK2 may contribute to dopaminergic manipulation and may be an underappreciated pathogenic burden.


Article #18-11940: "Human Endogenous Retrovirus-K HML-2 integration within RASGRF2 is associated with intravenous drug abuse and modulates transcription in a cell-line model," by Timokratis Karamitros et al.

MEDIA CONTACTS: Gkikas Magiorkinis, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, GREECE; tel: +306973687010; e-mail: <>; Aris Katzourakis, University of Oxford, UNITED KINGDOM; e-mail:

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.