[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We conducted a pilot, open-label study to assess the effect of short-term beta-carotene administration (180 mg/d with meals for 4 weeks) on the plasma human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) RNA levels and CD4+ lymphocyte counts in 21 HIV-infected patients. We found that plasma HIV RNA levels and CD4+ lymphocyte counts did not change following this short course of beta-carotene supplementation. Patients with lower serum concentrations of beta-carotene before supplementation were no more likely to have an increase in their CD4+ lymphocyte count or plasma HIV RNA copy number than were those with higher concentrations. No correlation was found between pre- or postsupplementation beta-carotene or vitamin A concentrations and pre- or postsupplementation CD4+ lymphocyte counts or plasma HIV RNA titers. This study provides no support for beta-carotene supplementation for HIV-infected subjects with normal baseline serum levels of beta-carotene and vitamin A.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hyporetinemia is associated with increased childhood morbidity and mortality that is reversible with vitamin A supplementation. Although vitamin A deficiency is otherwise rare in developed countries, the prevalence of hyporetinemia in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected persons is up to 29%. Hyporetinemic HIV-infected patients have a 3.5-5-fold increased risk of death. Furthermore, HIV-infected patients with very low or very high intake of vitamin A and beta-carotene (a vitamin A precursor) have greater rates of disease progression than do patients with intermediate intake. In developing countries up to 60% of HIV-infected pregnant women are hyporetinemic. In such women the relative risk of perinatal HIV transmission may be increased more than fourfold. These data indicate that vitamin A deficiency is common in HIV-infected patients in the developed world and strongly suggest that vitamin A supplementation may be especially useful in adjunctive therapy for HIV-infected pregnant women who reside in the developing world.