Alcohol’s accentuation of AIDS’ nutritional and immune damage, a cofactor in heart disease

R. Tomas Sepulveda, Ronald R. Watson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Infection with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) results, in the vast majority of cases, in the development of the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). A great number of papers have been published that analyze the affect of alcohol consumption on numerous aspects of HIV infection. Some of the questions examined have been: alcohol use and the likelihood of sexual practices with high risk behavior for HIV infection; alcohol consumption and susceptibility to HIV infection; and alcohol consumption and disease progression in HIV infected persons [1]. Also, the effect that micronutrient deficiency has on immune system development and viral disease progression is well known. In this chapter, we will examine a different question: are the influences of ethanol and micronutrients on HIV infection merely defined and distinct or do they interact together to produce additive and/or synergistic effects on the immune system? Early studies in vitro have shown that addition of alcohol to lymphocyte cell cultures corresponding to intoxication levels in vivo significantly suppress the proliferation of HIV recombinant antigens [2]. Interestingly enough, the study also indicates that while high levels of ethanol will suppress proliferation of lymphocytes in healthy individuals, it does not have the same effect in lymphocytes from AIDS patients. Lower levels of ethanol (EtOH) will suppress proliferation of lymphocytes from AIDS patients [2]. Studies have shown that micronutrient deficiencies are common during HIV infection. Insufficient dietary intake, malabsorption, diarrhea, excessive urinary secretion, impaired storage and altered metabolism of micronutrients can contribute to the development of these deficiencies. Low plasma or serum levels of vitamins A, E, B6, B12 and C, carotenoids, Se, and Zn are common in many HIV-infected populations. The effect of micronutrient deficiencies is clearly seen in the increase in oxidative stress and this in turn may contribute to the pathogenesis of HIV infection. Low levels or intakes of micronutrients such as vitamins A, E, B6 and B12, Zn and Se have been associated with a poor prognosis in the symptomology and progression of HIV infection, and new studies are emerging which suggest that micronutrient supplementation may help reduce the morbidity and mortality of patients suffering from this disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAlcohol and Heart Disease
PublisherCRC Press
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9780203218853
ISBN (Print)9780415273473
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Alcohol’s accentuation of AIDS’ nutritional and immune damage, a cofactor in heart disease'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this