Antioxidant status and lipid peroxidation in patients infected with HIV

Chem Biol Interact. 1994 Jun;91(2-3):165-80. doi: 10.1016/0009-2797(94)90037-x.


Deficiency in antioxidant micronutrients have been observed in patients with AIDS. These observations concerning only some isolated nutrients demonstrate a defect in zinc, selenium, and glutathione. An increase in free radical production and lipid peroxidation has been also found in these patients, and takes a great importance with recent papers presenting an immunodeficiency and more important an increase in HIV-1 replication secondary to free radicals overproduction. We have assessed different studies, trying to obtain a global view of the antioxidant status of these patients. In adults we observe a progressive decrease for zinc, selenium, and vitamin E with the severity of disease, except that selenium remains normal at stage II. However, the main dramatic decrease concerns carotenoids whose level at stage II is only half the normal value. To understand if these decreases in antioxidant and increases in oxidative stress occur secondary to the aggravation of the disease or, conversely, are responsible for it, we undertook a longitudinal survey of asymptotic patients. The preliminary results of this evaluation are presented. Paradoxically, lipid peroxidation is higher at stage II than at stage IV. This may be consecutive to a more intense overproduction of oxygen free radicals by more viable polymorphonuclear (PMN) at the asymptomatic stage. The free radicals production and lipid peroxidation seem secondary to a direct induction by the virus of PMN stimulation and cytokines secretion. N-Acetyl cysteine or ascorbate have been demonstrated in cell culture to be capable of blocking the expression of HIV-1 after oxidative stress and N-acetyl cysteine inhibits in vitro TNF-induced apoptosis of infected cells. In regard to all these experimental data, few serious and large trials of antioxidants have been conducted in HIV-infected patients, although some preliminary studies using zinc or selenium have been performed. In our opinion it is now time to evaluate in humans the beneficial effect of antioxidants. The more promising candidates for presenting synergistic effects when associated with N-acetyl cysteine seem to be beta-carotene, selenium and zinc.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / drug therapy
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / metabolism*
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Antioxidants / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Free Radicals
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Lipid Peroxidation*
  • Male


  • Antioxidants
  • Free Radicals