Selenium is found to boost the immune system and decrease progression of HIV/AIDS.
In the treatment of this pandemic affecting immune system the focus is now shifting towards nutrient supplements like selenium in addition to antiretroviral therapy so as to improve the quality of life of the affected. It is found that dietary selenium supplement can reduce the viral load and help in increasing the CD4+ T Cell Count and boosting immune system.
Selenium as antioxidant boosts immune system of HIV infectedSelenium as an essential trace mineral is required for the formation of selenoprotein enzymes, which are vital for the immune system. These selenoenzymes by neutralizing the free radicals (by-products of metabolism) save the body cells from oxidative damages. Glutathione (GSH) is the unique tripeptide essential for the functional physiology of immune system. The raised glutathione levels make the immune system to go into antiviral , anti HIV mode and the T cell function is enhanced. Antioxidants (includes selenium) are known to inhibit viral replication, boost immune system and also help in inhibiting apoptosis.
HIV/AIDS prevalence is low in regions with selenium rich soilViral infection and full-blown syndrome in sub-Saharan Africa has reached pandemic proportions with nearly 25% of the population being affected (Botswana 25%, Zimbabwe 25% and Zambia 19%) with HIV-1 infection as high as 36% in some parts. All these regions have one thing in common; the soil is poor in selenium. However in West Africa, Senegal has the lowest prevalence of only 1.77% in the population.
Senegal is fortunately situated on the sedimentary bed rocks of desiccated sea of Cretaceous and early Eocene period with soil rich in selenium, magnesium, phosphorus and calcium. Similarly Bolivia, which is rich in selenium (a major exporter of the mineral), has very low prevalence (0.2%) of of this viral infection when compared to the surrounding countries. Finland, whose soil is deficient in selenium, has made it mandatory to add selenium to fertilizers in 1984 and has 0.3% prevalence of Aids while the surrounding countries have double the prevalence.
Even after considering the lifestyle, unprotected promiscuous activity and AIDS awareness and education in these regions, the selenium availability in soil stands out as the main factor directly affecting the relative incidence of HIV. Selenium status in those infected with this virus and those with AIDS is a significant predictor of survival.
Selenium boosting immune system makes HIV/AIDS less virulent and slows its replicationIt is well established that the infected persons slowly become selenium deficient and their infection protection mechanism collapses. This is due to encoding the entire glutathione peroxidase (a selenoenzyme) by the HIV as it replicates. It sources the selenoenzyme component amino acids and selenium from the cells and plasma of the patient, affecting his immune system.
In a 18 month study jointly undertaken by the Duke University and Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control Society (TNSACS) in the South Indian State of Tamil Nadu, 10,500 people with HIV/AIDS were given antiretroviral therapy (ART) along with micro and macro nutrients. The study found that the micronutrient interfered with protein required for viral replication and reviving the disease resistance, improved the condition of the affected patients.
In another experiment conducted by K. Sandeep Prabhu and others it was found that HIV replication was inhibited at least ten fold when Selenium (sodium salt of selenium) was added to the cell culture. When the virus depletes all the mineral of the host cell, it replicates and attacks other healthy cells for more selenium.
The greater the uptake of selenium by HIV, greater is the its deficiency and compromise of the AIDS affected person's immune system. Selenium supplementation keeps the virus within the affected cell and cater to its need of this mineral. This helps the immune system to be well prepared and highly functional warding off any opportunistic infections.
Treatment of HIV/AIDS with Selenium, tryptophan, glutamine and cysteineDr. Harold Foster (died august 15, 2009), formerly faculty member in the Department of Geography, University of Victoria, treated AIDS patients in Africa with amino acids tryptophan, glutamine, cysteine and trace mineral selenium; which are the basic components of the selenoprotein enzyme glutathione peroxidase.
Affected patients are found to be extremely deficient in all the four nutrients required for the synthesis of glutathione peroxidase. When treated with these nutrients it was observed that patients were able to return to work within a month and their immune system revived. This virus competes for the glutathione peroxidase nutrients for its replication and depletes these nutrients in the infected individual.
With the current antiretroviral therapy for HIV/AIDS targeting the replication of the virus, the intake of these amino acids along with selenium further boosts the immune system of the affected person helping him to lead a near normal life.
Selenium and HIV/AIDS (current topic).