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HIV/AIDS patients lack antioxidants

TORONTO, CANADA. Medical researchers at the Toronto Hospital and the University of Toronto report that patients with HIV/AIDS suffer more oxidative stress and have weaker antioxidant defense systems than do healthy people. Their study involved 49 non-smoking HIV-positive patients (25 asymptomatic and 24 with AIDS) and 15 age-matched control subjects who had tested negative for HIV. Most of the patients were receiving antiretroviral treatment (zidovudine, lamivudine or saquinavir). After a two-week screening period blood samples were drawn from all participants for the measurement of antioxidants and the products of lipid peroxidation. Oxidative stress was also measured via breath analysis and the determination of ethane and pentane in the breath. The data collected clearly showed that the HIV-positive patients were exposed to far more oxidative stress than were the controls. The amount of lipid peroxides in the blood of the patients was more than 10 times higher (51 micromol/L vs 4.5 micromol/L) than in the controls. Both breath-pentane and breath-ethane outputs (an indication of oxidative stress) were also significantly higher among the patients. Antioxidant concentrations (alpha- and gamma-tocopherol [vitamin-E], vitamin-C, beta-carotene, vitamin-A and selenium) were substantially lower among the patients than among the controls. The differences in gamma-tocopherol levels (2.69 micromol/L in patients vs 7.65 micromol/L in controls), vitamin C levels (40.7 micromol/L in patients vs 75.7 micromol/L in controls), and selenium levels (0.37 micromol/L in patients vs 0.85 micromol/L in controls) were particularly pronounced. The researchers conclude that the antioxidant deficiency in HIV/AIDS patients is likely due to the fact that their antioxidant stores are rapidly depleted by the increased oxidative stress caused by the infection. They suggest further work be done to determine whether antioxidant supplementation will affect the oxidative stress level as well as the progression of the disease.
Allard, Johane P., et al. Oxidative stress and plasma antioxidant micronutrients in humans with HIV infection. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 67, January 1998, pp. 143-47
Kotler, Donald P. Antioxidant therapy and HIV infection: 1998. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 67, January 1998, pp. 7-9 (editorial)

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