Selenium, HIV and Immune Issues
Topic - Selenium, HIV and Immune Issues
Article Abstracts and Links Below
Essence of the Articles:
For this subject we're citing two articles.
Dr. Harold Foster, noted AIDS researcher, discusses post infection nutrient depletion as a means used by certain pathogens to successfully win the long-term battle with the immune system. These deficiencies can lead to some of the serious symptoms associated with malaria, HIV, and Coxsackie B virus in particular.
HIV-1, the form we see here in the US, depletes selenium, cysteine, glutamine and tryptophan. All of these nutrients have a role in the formation and function of glutathione. Glutathione is a master detoxifier and a potent intracellular anti-oxidant. Malaria, caused by Plasmodium falciparum, depletes vitamin A. Coxsackie B virus depletes selenium and can cause cardiomyopathy (Keshan Disease).
The article by Stone et al, further reminds us that oxidative stress enhances replication of HIV. Catalase and glutathione peroxidase, which are key players in the body's antioxidant defense system, were subsequently shown to decrease viral activation.
Good selenium status is also linked to increased numbers of beneficial immune system cells including CD4+, which is closely monitored in HIV patients.
While selenium and the various molecules in which it has a role is surely beneficial, it is by no means a "cure". Selenium and other appropriate nutritional treatment under the guidance of a qualified practitioner can play an important role in assisting the immune system.
The preferred form of selenium is selenomethionine (higher bioavailability) but selenites and selenates are also commonly used.
Dietary selenium comes from nuts, cereals, meat, mushrooms, fish, and eggs.
The RDA is 55 mcg, but therapeutic doses may be 200 mcg or greater with proper supervision.
Selenium is also necessary for good thyroid function because the enzyme necessary for converting T-4 to T-3 (The active form), 5'deiodinase is selenium based.
Additionally, selenium has impact on the cytochrome P-450 enzyme system, which is responsible for metabolism of steroid hormones and a wide variety of chemical compounds, including drugs and toxins.
The prudent use of nutrition may at minimum be useful in combating oxidative stress associated with multiple disease processes. A large area of China known to have selenium deficient soil has higher rates of Keshan Disease in those infected by Coxsackie B virus. This is analogous to higher rates of thyroid issues in the Goiter Belt of the US where soil is iodine deficient.
FYI - There are now excellent glutathione products on the market.
Additional information relating to selenium and glutathione:
Med Hypotheses. 2007;69(6):1277-80. Epub 2007 May 23.
A role for the antioxidant defense system in preventing the transmission of HIV.
Relevant Lab Testing:
Selenium - can be tested through serum, RBC (red blood cells), and as part of a panel of RBC minerals.
RBC Testing represents a two month window (red blood cells - RBCs - live about 4 months so the average RBC is about 2 months old) while serum is a snapshot of current status in the bloodstream.
Glutathione - reasonably priced testing is now available for this important intracellular anti-oxidant.
Med Hypotheses. 2008;70(1):21-5. Epub 2007 Jun 27.
Host-pathogen evolution: Implications for the prevention and treatment of malaria, myocardial infarction and AIDS.
Humans have evolved complex immune systems to protect against infection by pathogens. However, pathogens possess a remarkable genetic versatility that allows them to gain new vigour and so escape such population immunity. Conflicting pathogen-host objectives, therefore, lead to the evolutionary equivalent of an "arms race". Typically, in this struggle, pathogens attempt to deplete their host of specific nutrients that are essential for immune system function. After infection, the resulting deficiency of nutrient(s) may cause many of the disease symptoms and sequela. In malaria, Plasmodium falciparum, for example, depletes its host of Vitamin A, possibly resulting in blindness in some cases. However, 200,000 International Units of Vitamin A, given to children every three months can reduce significantly their susceptibility to malaria. This would seem to be a minimum child dosage for the treatment of the disease. In contrast, the Coxsackie B virus causes a selenium deficiency that may result in myocardial infarction or Keshan disease. However, table salt fortified with 15ppm anhydrous sodium selenite can cause dramatic drops in the incidence of Keshan disease, while selenium supplementation also reduces re-infarction rates. HIV-1 depletes its host of four nutrients: selenium, cysteine, glutamine and tryptophan, resulting in symptoms known as AIDS. Open and closed clinical trials in South Africa, Zambia and Uganda, involving daily adult doses of 600mcg l-selenomethione, and some 500mg l-glutamine, hydroxytryptophan and N-acetyl cysteine, however, have shown that such supplementation can reverse the symptoms of AIDS and prevent HIV-1 infected patients declining into this disease. It is obvious, therefore, that supplementation of diet with specific nutrients can reduce infection by particular pathogens. In addition, if infection still occurs, their use as a treatment may prevent many of the symptoms and sequela commonly associated with diseases such as malaria, myocardial infarction and AIDS.
Nutr Rev. 2010 Nov;68(11):671-81. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00337.x.
Role of selenium in HIV infection.
Stone CA, Kawai K, Kupka R, Fawzi WW.
HIV infection is a global disease that disproportionately burdens populations with nutritional vulnerabilities. Laboratory experiments have shown that selenium has an inhibitory effect on HIV in vitro through antioxidant effects of glutathione peroxidase and other selenoproteins. Numerous studies have reported low selenium status in HIV-infected individuals, and serum selenium concentration declines with disease progression. Some cohort studies have shown an association between selenium deficiency and progression to AIDS or mortality. In several randomized controlled trials, selenium supplementation has reduced hospitalizations and diarrheal morbidity, and improved CD4(+) cell counts, but the evidence remains mixed. Additional trials are recommended to study the effect of selenium supplementation on opportunistic infections, and other HIV disease-related comorbidities in the context of highly active antiretroviral therapy in both developing and developed countries.
© 2010 International Life Sciences Institute.
Med Hypotheses. 2004;62(4):549-53.
How HIV-1 causes AIDS: implications for prevention and treatment.
HIV-1 encodes for one of the human glutathione peroxidases. As a consequence, as it is replicated, its genetic needs cause it to deprive HIV-1 seropositive individuals not only of glutathione peroxidase, but also of the four basic components of this selenoenzyme, namely selenium, cysteine, glutamine, and tryptophan. Eventually this depletion process causes severe deficiencies of all these substances. These, in turn, are responsible for the major symptoms of AIDS which include immune system collapse, greater susceptibility to cancer and myocardial infarction, muscle wasting, depression, diarrhea, psychosis and dementia. As the immune system fails, associated pathogenic cofactors become responsible for a variety of their own unique symptoms. Any treatment for HIV/AIDS must, therefore, include normalization of body levels of glutathione, glutathione peroxidase, selenium, cysteine, glutamine, and tryptophan. Although various clinical trials have improved the health of AIDS patients by correcting one or more of these nutritional deficiencies, they have not, until the present, been addressed together. Physicians involved in a selenium and amino-acid field trial in Botswana, however, are reporting that this nutritional protocol reverses AIDS in 99% of patients receiving it, usually within three weeks.
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]