Alpha-lipoic acid is an effective inhibitor of human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV-1) replication


Alpha-lipoic acid, a naturally occuring disulfide-compound that acts as a cellular coenzyme, inhibits replication of HIV-1 in cultured lymphoid T-cells. Alpha-lipoic acid was added 16 hours after infection of the T-cell lines Jurkat, SupT1 and Molt-4 with HTLV IIIB and HIV-1 Wai (a wild type HIV-1 isolate). We observed a dose dependent inhibition of HIV-1-replication in CPE (Cytopathic effect) formation, reverse transcriptase activity and plaque formation on CD4-transformed HeLa-cells. An over 90% reduction of reverse transcriptase activity could be achieved with 70 μg alpha-lipoic acid/ml, a complete reduction of plaque-forming units at concentrations of ≥35 μg alpha-lipoic acid/ml. An augmentation of the antiviral activity was seen by combination of zidovudine and low dose of alpha-lipoic acid (7 μg/ ml). Trypan blue staining revealed no toxic effects of alpha-lipoic acids on peripheral blood mononuclear cells and T-cell lines even in concentrations of ≥70 μg/ml. Therefore, we propose the inclusion of alpha-lipoic acid into chemotherapy trials in combination with zidovudine.

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Human immunodeficiency virus


Human T-lymphotropic virus


multiplicity of infection


Azidothymidine (zidovudine)


peripheral blood mononuclear cells




cytopathic effect


reverse transcriptase


Cluster of differentiation


counts per minute


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We thank Susanne Gack, Maria Neundörfer and Ute Ehrmann for expert technical assistance.

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Baur, A., Harrer, T., Peukert, M. et al. Alpha-lipoic acid is an effective inhibitor of human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV-1) replication. Klin Wochenschr 69, 722–724 (1991).

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Key words

  • HIV inhibition
  • Alpha-lipoic acid-therapy