[Skip to Navigation]
January 1991

Reactive Oxygen Species, Antioxidants, and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome: Sense or Speculation?

Author Affiliations

Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine University of California at Davis Medical Center 4301X St, 2120 Professional Bldg Sacramento, CA 95817

Arch Intern Med. 1991;151(1):29-31. doi:10.1001/archinte.1991.00400010053005

A cquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) results from A infection with a human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1 or HIV-2) that eventually destroys a specific subset (CD4+) of helper T lymphocytes, so that the patient ultimately succumbs to opportunistic infections and/or certain neoplasms.1 A high proportion of, and perhaps all, HIV-seropositive patients will show disease progression. Thus, of a cohort of HIV-1—positive subjects who were followed up for 3 years, 19% developed AIDS-related complex (ARC) and 26% developed AIDS.2 Also, 41% of those who remained asymptomatic showed laboratory evidence of decline of immunologic status.2 The only drug currently approved for the treatment of AIDS is 3'-azido-3'-deoxythymidine (azidothymidine, or AZT, now called zidovudine), which is therapeutically effective but has significant time- and dose-related toxicity.3,4

Recent reports have implicated reactive oxygen species both in the pathogenesis of HIV infection and in some of the side effects of drugs such as zidovudine.