Increased mortality associated with vitamin A deficiency during human immunodeficiency virus type 1 infection.


Semba RD, Graham NM, Caiaffa WT




Arch Intern Med


OBJECTIVE: To determine whether plasma vitamin A levels are associated with immunologic status and clinical outcome during human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Analysis of vitamin A levels, CD4 T cells, complete blood cell count, and serologic markers for liver disease in a random subsample of 179 subjects from a cohort of more than 2000 intravenous drug users with longitudinal follow-up to determine survival. RESULTS: Mean (+/- SE) follow-up time was 22.8 +/- 1.1 months, and 15 subjects died during follow-up. More than 15% of the HIV-1- seropositive individuals had plasma vitamin A levels less than 1.05 mumol/L, a level consistent with vitamin A deficiency. The HIV-1- seropositive individuals had lower mean plasma vitamin A levels than HIV-1-seronegative individuals (P < .001). Vitamin A deficiency was associated with lower CD4 levels among both seronegative individuals (P < .05) and seropositive individuals (P < .05). In the HIV- seropositive participants, vitamin A deficiency was associated with increased mortality (relative risk = 6.3; 95% confidence interval, 2.1 to 18.6). CONCLUSION: Vitamin A deficiency may be common during HIV-1 infection, and vitamin A deficiency is associated with decreased circulating CD4 T cells and increased mortality. Vitamin A is an essential micronutrient for normal immune function, and vitamin A deficiency seems to be an important risk factor for disease progression during HIV-1 infection.