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Comparative study of the anti-HIV activities of ascorbate and thiol-containing reducing agents in chronically HIV-infected cells.

Am J Clin Nutr 1991 Dec;54(6 Suppl):1231S-1235S (ISSN: 0002-9165)

Harakeh S; Jariwalla RJ

To elucidate the action of vitamin C on pathogenic human retroviruses, we investigated and compared the effects of noncytoxic concentrations of ascorbic acid (AA), its calcium salt (Ca-ascorbate), and two thiol-based reducing agents [glutathione (GSH) and N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC)] against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 replication in chronically infected T lymphocytes. Ca-ascorbate reduced extracellular HIV reverse transcriptase (RT) activity by about the same magnitude as the equivalent dose of AA. Long-term experiments showed that continuous presence of ascorbate was necessary for HIV suppression. NAC (10 mmol/L) caused less than twofold inhibition of HIV RT and conferred a synergistic effect (approximately eightfold inhibition) when tested simultaneously with AA (0.426 mmol/L). In contrast, nonesterified GSH (less than or equal to 1.838 mmol/L) had no effect on RT concentrations and did not potentiate the anti-HIV effect of AA. These results further support the potent antiviral activity of ascorbate and suggest its therapeutic value in controlling HIV infection in combination with thiols.

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