Improved antioxidant status among HIV-infected injecting drug users on potent antiretroviral therapy

Alice M. Tang, Ellen Smit, Richard D. Semba, Nina Shah, Cynthia M. Lyles, Dongguang Li, David Vlahov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Low serum antioxidant levels in HIV-infected people have been attributed to altered metabolism associated with excess oxidative stress. We conducted a study to examine serum antioxidant levels in 175 HIV-positive and 210 HIV- negative injecting drug users (IDUs) in Baltimore, Maryland. At the time of data collection, 30 of the HIV-positive IDUs were receiving antiretroviral therapies (ART) including a protease inhibitor (PI), 43 ART without a PI, 22 monotherapies, and 80 not on any ART. Serum antioxidants examined included retinol, α-tocopherol and γ-tocopherol, α-carotene and β-carotene, lycopene, lutein/zeaxanthin, and β-cryptoxanthin. Mean serum levels of lycopene and lutein/zeaxanthin were significantly lower in HIV-positive IDUs than HIV-negative IDUs. Contrary to the findings in other studies, however, levels of the remaining antioxidants in HIV-positive study subjects were not lower than in HIV-negative study subjects. In fact, serum α-tocopherol levels were significantly higher in HIV-positive IDUs than HIV-negative IDUs (medians = 744 μg/dl and 718 μg/dl, respectively; p = .04). Among HIV- positive study subjects, there were significant differences in antioxidant levels by ART regimen. In multivariate models adjusting for injecting drug use, dietary intake, supplement intake, gender, and alcohol intake, significant overall differences by ART regimen were observed for α- tocopherol, β-carotene, and β-cryptoxanthin. Serum levels of these three antioxidants were significantly higher in the PI group than in the other three ART groups combined (p = .0008, 0.02, and 0.02, respectively). These data provide indirect evidence of the effectiveness of PIs in lowering oxidative stress levels in HIV-positive IDUs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-326
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2000


  • Antioxidants
  • Antiretroviral treatment
  • Carotenoids
  • HIV infection
  • Protease inhibitors
  • Tocopherols

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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