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A clinical review of micronutrients in HIV infection.

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Ottawa Health Research Institute, Canadian HIV Trials Network, Ottawa, Canada.


This article reviews current literature on the role of micronutrients in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. Deficiencies of micronutrients are common in HIV-infected persons. They occur due to malabsorption, altered metabolism, gut infection, and altered gut barrier function. There is a compelling association of deficiencies of micronutrients in HIV-infection with immune deficiency, rapid disease progression, and mortality. Also, there is increased risk of vertical HIV transmission from mother to child with deficiency of vitamin A, and of neurological impairment with vitamin B12. The last five years have been exciting in micronutrient research, and there is promise that some micronutrients may be key factors in maintaining health in HIV immunodeficiency, and in reducing mortality. Selenium appears important in reducing virulence of HIV and slowing disease progression. Vitamin A supplementation in pregnant women with HIV may reduce maternal mortality and improve birth outcomes. Supplementation in children with HIV may accelerate growth. Carotenoid supplementation is being evaluated. Vitamin B12 may slow HIV immune deficiency disease progression, and reverse neurological compromise. Clinical benefit of supplementation with some micronutrients may be measurable in the presence of pre-existing deficiency. Apart from improved general nutrition, the impact of micronutrient supplements on health and their optimal use in HIV infection is controversial because there are so few controlled clinical trials. Further research is needed to elucidate the role of micronutrient deficiencies on the course of HIV infection, and the preventive and therapeutic role of supplementation in its clinical management. Nevertheless, current knowledge supports the use of routine multivitamin and trace element supplementation as adjuvant to conventional antiretroviral drug treatment as a relatively low-cost intervention.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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