R-ALA Benefits for AIDS/HIV
AIDS is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which attacks
a specific type of white blood cells known as T-lymphocytes. About 20 million
people throughout the world are infected with HIV. A massive research effort has
produced better treatments, resulting in longer survival and improved quality
of life for those with access to the treatments. But there is still no vaccine
or cure. The only real defense against AIDS is prevention.
HIV so difficult to control is that it targets and destroys immune cells called
t-helper cells, the body's first line of defense against infection. Once these
t-cells are decimated the body is vulnerable to a host of infections of diseases.
When t-cells are weakened by HIV, they lose their ability to produce and transport
glutathione, a major cellular antioxidant. Once this happens, they succumb to
oxidative stress causing further destruction. Not surprisingly, HIV-positive patients
have considerably lower glutathione, as well as other antioxidant, levels.
AIDS/HIV and Alpha Lipoic Acid
In the test tube, ALA prevents replication of
HIV in cultured human cells. There is also evidence that ALA bolsters the antioxidant
defenses in HIV-positive people. In one study, lipoic acid (150mg, 3 times daily)
was given orally to 12 HIV patients. At the end of 2 weeks, all of the patients
had an increase in in blood glutathione levels, and 9 patients had an increase
in the number of t-helper cells - a sign that their immune system was stronger.
In vitro, alpha-lipoic acid has been shown to have synergistic effects
when combined with AZT, with the combination of the two showing stronger inhibition
of HIV replication than either had when used alone. In vitro research done at
Kumamoto University in Japan has shown that alpha-lipoic acid significantly depresses
both HIV tat gene activity and HIV infectivity, and is active in both acute and
chronically infected cells. Other in vitro research done in the Department of
Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, has shown
that alpha-lipoic acid inhibits NF-kappa B activity.
German in vitro research
has also shown that alpha-lipoic acid inhibits the infectivity of virus particles
and suppresses viral replication, and follow-up in vivo studies by the same researchers
showed that it does have antiviral effects in HIV+'s, reducing viral titers just
as had been predicted by the in vitro research. Since NF-kappa B is, in essence,
an on-off switch for the activation of HIV, and that inhibition is considered a
promising antiviral approach, and anything non-toxic that effectively suppresses
viral replication and reduces infectivity is immensely desirable, alpha lipoic
acid may be a very important part of a comprehensive antiviral approach.
Home: Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)