The effect of vitamin A therapy on HIV-1 RNA level and CD4+ cell count

J. R. Bernett, R. W. Coombs, T. M. Hooton, M. R. Krone, K. K. Holmes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: To determine if vitamin A (Vit-A) therapy has in-vivo antiretroviral (ARV) activity as assessed by changes in HIV-RNA levels (HRNA) and CD4+ cell count (CD4+). METHODS: We performed a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over trial and enrolled 16 HIV+ subjects (median CD4+ of 284 cells/ul, range of 199-465 cells/ul, CDC Class A2 (n=3); B2 (n=13) on stable (n=3) or no (n=13) ARV therapy and not taking Vit-A or β-carotene (β-C) in excess of that in a daily multivitamin (5,500 IU)). Ten subjects received Vit-A for 6 weeks and then received placebo for 6 weeks; six subjects received the opposite treatment. The Vit-A dose was 50,000 IU of retinyl palmitate per day for 2 weeks then 25,000 IU per day for 4 weeks. HRNA was measured at baseline, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12 weeks. CD4+, retinol, retinol binding protein (RBP), β-C levels and liver function tests were measured at baseline, 4 and 10 weeks. A randomized block analysis was used to test Vit-A effect on HIV-RNA level and CD4+ cell count. RESULTS: Fourteen of 16 subjects completed the trial. Reason for study discontinuation were folliculitis (n=1) and change in ARV (n=1). No significant biochemical abnormalities occurred. Baseline retinol, RBP and β-C levels were normal or above normal in all except 1 subject who had borderline below normal levels. Mean log HRNA and CD4+ at baseline were 4.5 copies/ml and 326 cells/ul, on Vit-A treatment, 4.4 copies/ml and 324 cells/ul, and on placebo, 4.4 copies/ml and 320 cells/ul. Vit-A therapy had no significant effect on either HIV-RNA level (p=0.34) or CD4+cell count (p=0.94). CONCLUSION: In HIV-infected persons without AIDS and with normal vitamin A levels, six weeks of vitamin A therapy had no significant effect on either plasma HIV-RNA levels or CD4+ cell counts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages1
JournalClinical Infectious Diseases
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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