N-Acetylcysteine Boosts T-Cells

N-Acetylcysteine Boosts T-Cell Function in HIV-Infected Patients
By Eliza Bussey

BETHESDA, MD, Apr 27 (Reuters Health)
Administration of N-acetylcysteine (NAC) to replenish glutathione (GSA) deficiency, improves T-cell function and blocks HIV expression in vitro. The finding was reported by Dr. Leonard A. Herzenberg of Stanford University Medical School in Stanford, California, at the Alcohol Use and HIV Pharmacotherapy conference held at the NIH on Thursday.

Glutathione (GSH) deficiency impairs key T-cell functions and promotes cytokine-stimulated HIV expression, and is common among HIV-infected individuals with CD4 T-cell counts below 200 cells per microliter. Before highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), GSH deficiency in HIV patients was associated with markedly lower probability of surviving 2 to 3 years, Dr. Herzenberg explained.

During a placebo-controlled trial, Dr. Herzenberg and his colleagues also found that plasma levels of thioredoxin (Trx), a redox-active protein central to cell physiology, were elevated in HIV-infected people and predicted a poor survival rate in a 15-month period for patients with CD4 T-cell counts below 200 cells per microliter.

"Since oxidized stress increases Trx, we can see why it would normally be considered a death warrant," Dr. Herzenberg explained. "NAC blocks Trx release in vitro, and it is important because elevated Trx in immunodeficient individuals removes the last remaining barrier to establishment of opportunistic and other lethal infections."

"We would like to see these studies repeated with NAC as an adjuvant to HAART," Dr. Herzenberg. "It is important because HAART therapy only goes after the virus, while NAC helps restore the immune system.

Comment: N-acetyl cysteine is one of the dietary supplements that those HIV(+) people in the know have been taking for a dozen or more years. If there is one survival tool every HIV(+) person should consider it is taking dietary supplements that increase glutathione production. Suggested dosing is 500 to 1,000 mg three times per day.

Other supplements that increase glutathione include L-glutamine (12 to 36 grams per day), alpha lipoic acid (100 to 1,000 mg per day), selenium (200 - 800 mcg per day), and Immunocal whey protein (don't assume that other whey proteins have as much effect as Immunocal.)

Protein malnutrition can cause a decrease in glutathione production too, so be sure to get plenty of protein three times per day.

We provide more discussion of glutathione in our book Built To Survive, available by calling (800) 350-2392 or you can order it from by clicking here.

Michael Mooney

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