Low serum thiol levels predict shorter timestodeath among HIVinfected injecting drug users

Marmor, Michael1,2,4,7; Alcabes, Philip1,4; Titus, Stephen1,4; Frenkel, Krystyna1; Krasinski, Keith3,5; Penn, Arthur1; Pero, Ronald W.1,6


Objectives: To investigate whether serum thiol levels are altered by HIV disease, and whether low serum thiols predict time to death among HIV-infected injecting drug users (IDU).

Design: A cross-sectional study of serum thiol levels among 13 HIV-seronegative IDU, 116 HIV-seropositive IDU, and 17 HIV-seropositive IDU with a history of AIDS, and a cohort study of the 133 HIV-infected IDU who took part in the cross-sectional study.

Methods: Subjects were recruited from a methadone-maintenance treatment program during 1990–1991. Total serum thiols were determined spectrophotometrically at enrolment; low serum thiols were defined as those with an absorbance at 412 nm ≤ 0.46. Deaths through 31 December 1993 were determined from the National Death Index (NDI). Twenty-six HIV-seropositive subjects died during follow up; death certificates, which were obtained for 23 subjects, indicated AIDS or HIV infection for 20. Product-limit estimation was used to calculate survival. Multivariate analyses employed Cox proportional-hazards regression.

Results: Analysis of cross-sectional data showed that serum thiols did not differ significantly among HIV-free subjects, HIV-infected subjects, and HIV-infected subjects with a history of AIDS. Cohort analysis, adjusted for age, revealed that persons with low serum thiols had a significantly increased hazard of death compared with those with high serum thiols (relative hazard = 2.83; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.15, 6.97); a significant interaction between low serum thiols and a history of AIDS was associated with a relative hazard of 5.65 (95% CI, 1.22, 26.1).

Conclusions: Among HIV-infected persons, low serum thiols, especially in concert with a history of AIDS, predict mortality risk. These findings support the hypothesis that oxidative stress is critical to the pathogenesis of HIV infection.

Author Information

1Department of Environmental Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, New York, USA.

2Department of Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, New York, USA

3Department of Pediatrics, New York University School of Medicine, New York, USA

4Center for AIDS Research, New York University School of Medicine, New York, USA

5Bellevue Hospital Center, New York, USA

6OXiGENE Inc., New York, New York, USA.

7Requests for reprints to: Dr Michael Marmor, Department of Environmental Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, 341 East 25th Street, New York NY 10010-2598, USA.

Sponsorship: Supported by grant no. DA06001 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse; Center for AIDS Research grant no. P30 AI27742 from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; General Clinical Research Center grant M01 RR00096 from the National Institute of Health's Center for Research Resources; grant no. H5263-01 from OXiGENE, Inc.; and contributions from the Consolidated Edison Company, New York, USA.

Date of receipt: 5 September 1996; revised: 13 May 1997; accepted: 20 May 1996.

© Lippincott-Raven Publishers.