Review article

Micronutrients and the pathogenesis of human immunodeficiency virus infection

R. D. Sembaa1 c1 and A. M. Tanga1

a1 Departments of Ophthalmology and Epidemiology School of Medicine and School of Hygiene and Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA


Micronutrient deficiencies may be common during human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. Insufficient dietary intake, malabsorption, diarrhoea, and impaired storage and altered metabolism of micronutrients can contribute to the development of micronutrient deficiencies. Low plasma or serum levels of vitamins A, E, B6, B12 and C, carotenoids, Se, and Zn are common in many HIV-infected populations. Micronutrient deficiencies may contribute to the pathogenesis of HIV infection through increased oxidative stress and compromised immunity. Low levels or intakes of micronutrients such as vitamins A, E, B6 and B12, Zn and Se have been associated with adverse clinical outcomes during HIV infection, and new studies are emerging which suggest that micronutrient supplementation may help reduce morbidity and mortality during HIV infection.

(Received March 23 1998)

(Revised September 28 1998)

(Accepted October 02 1998)


c1 *Corresponding author: Dr Richard D. Semba, Ocular Immunology Service, 550 North Broadway, Suite 700, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA, fax +1 410 955 0629, email