Background: Patients with HIV (PWH) develop geriatric comorbidities, including functional and cognitive decline at a younger age. However, contributing mechanisms are unclear and interventions are lacking. We hypothesized that deficiency of the antioxidant protein glutathione (GSH) contributes to multiple defects representing premature aging in PWH, and that these defects could be improved by supplementing the GSH precursors glycine and N-acetylcysteine (GlyNAC). Methods: We conducted an open label clinical trial where eight PWH and eight matched uninfected-controls were studied at baseline. PWH were studied again 12-weeks after receiving GlyNAC, and 8-weeks after stopping GlyNAC. Controls did not receive supplementation. Outcome measures included red-blood cell and muscle GSH concentrations, mitochondrial function, mitophagy and autophagy, oxidative stress, inflammation, endothelial function, genomic damage, insulin resistance, glucose production, muscle-protein breakdown rates, body composition, physical function and cognition. Results: PWH had significant defects in measured outcomes, which improved with GlyNAC supplementation. However, benefits receded after stopping GlyNAC. Conclusions: This open label trial finds that PWH have premature aging based on multiple biological and functional defects, and identifies novel mechanistic explanations for cognitive and physical decline. Nutritional supplementation with GlyNAC improves comorbidities suggestive of premature aging in PWH including functional and cognitive decline, and warrants additional investigation.
Keywords: Glutathione; GlyNAC; HIV; cognition; mitochondrial function; oxidative stress; physical function; premature aging.