Journal of Molecular Medicine

, Volume 78, Issue 1, pp 55–62

Improvement of immune functions in HIV infection by sulfur supplementation: Two randomized trials

  • Raoul Breitkreutz
  • Nicole Pittack
  • Carl Nebe
  • Dieter Schuster
  • Jürgen Brust
  • Matthias Beichert
  • Volker Hack
  • Volker Daniel
  • Lutz Edler
  • Wulf Dröge
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s001099900073

Cite this article as:
Breitkreutz, R., Pittack, N., Nebe, C. et al. J Mol Med (2000) 78: 55. doi:10.1007/s001099900073

Abstract.

To determine the therapeutic effect of sulfur amino acid supplementation in HIV infection we randomized 40 patients with antiretroviral therapy (ART; study 1) and 29 patients without ART (study 2) to treatment for 7 months with N-acetyl-cysteine or placebo at an individually adjusted dose according to a defined scheme. The main outcome measures were the change in immunological parameters including natural killer (NK) cell and T cell functions and the viral load. Both studies showed consistently that N-acetyl-cysteine causes a marked increase in immunological functions and plasma albumin concentrations. The effect of N-acetyl-cysteine on the viral load, in contrast, was not consistent and may warrant further studies. Our findings suggest that the impairment of immunological functions in HIV+ patients results at least partly from cysteine deficiency. Because immune reconstitution is a widely accepted aim of HIV treatment, N-acetyl-cysteine treatment may be recommended for patients with and without ART. Our previous report on the massive loss of sulfur in HIV-infected subjects and the present demonstration of the immunoreconstituting effect of cysteine supplementation indicate that the HIV-induced cysteine depletion is a novel mechanism by which a virus destroys the immune defense of the host and escapes immune elimination.

HIV infection Viral load Immune reconstitution in HIV infection NK cell activity N-Acetyl-cysteine

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Raoul Breitkreutz
    • 1
  • Nicole Pittack
    • 2
  • Carl Nebe
    • 4
  • Dieter Schuster
    • 3
  • Jürgen Brust
    • 3
  • Matthias Beichert
    • 5
  • Volker Hack
    • 1
  • Volker Daniel
    • 6
  • Lutz Edler
    • 7
  • Wulf Dröge
    • 1
  1. 1.Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, Division of Immunochemistry, Im Neuenheimer Feld 280, 69120 Heidelberg, GermanyGermany
  2. 2.Medizinische Klinik I, 68167 Mannheim, GermanyGermany
  3. 3.HIV-Schwerpunktpraxis, 68167 Mannheim, GermanyGermany
  4. 4.Institut für klinische Chemie, 68167 Mannheim, GermanyGermany
  5. 5.Universitäts-Frauenklinik, 68167 Mannheim, GermanyGermany
  6. 6.Institut für Immunologie, Universität Heidelberg, 69120 Heidelberg, GermanyGermany
  7. 7.Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, Biostatistics Unit, Im Neuenheimer Feld 280, 69120 Heidelberg, GermanyGermany