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Short-term effects of large-dose vitamin A supplementation on viral load and immune response in HIV-infected women.

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  • 1Department of International Health, The Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA.


Vitamin A supplementation has been suggested for treatment and prevention of HIV infection. However, some in vitro data indicate that vitamin A may activate HIV. Randomly, 40 HIV-seropositive women of reproductive age were allocated to receive a single oral dose of 9900 micromol (300,000 IU) vitamin A or placebo. Plasma HIV-1 RNA concentration, total lymphocytes, selected lymphocyte subsets and activation markers, and in vitro lymphocyte proliferation to phytohemagglutinin (PHA) and Candida were measured before dosing and at various time points over an 8-week follow-up period. No differences were found between treatment groups in the frequency of signs or symptoms of acute vitamin A toxicity, nor were differences evident in any lymphocyte subset or activation marker at any time during follow-up. Mean and median viral load concentration at each time point and change in viral load from baseline to each follow-up point did not differ between treatment groups. No difference was measured between treatment groups in the proportion of women who responded to PHA or Candida. This study provides no evidence that high dose vitamin A supplementation of HIV-infected women is associated with significant clinical or immunologic adverse effects.

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