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Vitamin A deficiency and proinflammatory cytokine, mu opioid receptor, and HIV expression in the HIV-1 Tg rat

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Drug users with HIV-1 infection are at increased risk for the development of HIV-related complications that may be exacerbated by vitamin A deficiency.

Materials and methods

T cells in whole blood samples from transgenic (Tg) and non-Tg rats on either a vitamin A deficient (VA-) or normal (VA+) diet were examined for interferon (IFN)-y, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-y, mu opioid receptor (MOR), and HIV-1 expression before and after stimulation with phytohemagglutinin (PHA) by PCR and flow cytometry and in enzyme immunoassays.


PHA-stimulated T cells from VA-/Tg rats produced higher percentages of IFN-y + T cells, secreted the highest levels of TNF-y, and showed the greatest expression of MOR. In addition, gp120 and nef gene expression was higher for T cells from VA-/Tg rats than from VA+/Tg rats.


These data, obtained in the HIV-1 Tg rat, suggest that vitamin A deficiency in drug users may promote HIV disease progression through effects on proinflammatory cytokine, HIV protein, and MOR expression.

Author information

Correspondence to Walter Royal III.

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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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About this article


  • Flow Cytometry
  • Interferon
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor
  • Proinflammatory Cytokine
  • Drug User