I have read in some studies that Immunocal (bio-active, undenatured milk) that contain high level of N-acetyl cysteine are able to increase the CD4 count for HIV patients. What is your thoughts about it? Can it be substituted with normal l-acetyl cysteine supplement pills normally used by athletes and sports people? Is worth trying as the price of this health supplement products is not cheap .
Immunocal is a whey protein product that was used in an ACTG placebo controlled study that showed that using this supplement increased CD4 cells compared to the placebo arm. However, it is expensive and many people with HIV cannot tolerate whey protein (we get diarrhea, gas, bloating, etc). Whey is well known for increasing our natural production of the antioxidant glutathione. HIV decreases the amount of glutathione is our bodies.
Another way to increase glutathione is to supplement with N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC). I take 1000 mg of this supplement per day not only as a glutathione source of glutathione but also to keep my liver enzymes within normal ranges.
Supplementation of HIV-infected patients with N-acetyl-cysteine for 7 months in placebo-controlled randomized clinical trials resulted in a significant increase in immunological function and in a release of the chemokines (immune protein messengers) MIP-1alpha, MIP-1beta, and RANTES, which are implicated in blocking the interaction of HIV with the CCR5 receptor used to enter the CD4 cell and in lowering CD4 death.
A study found that glutathione deficiency in HIV+ patients can lead to decreased survival (these patients were not on HAART). Supplementing with NAC can reverse that deficiency.
Glutathione deficiency is associated with impaired survival in HIV disease
Although we need more studies, I would speculate that NAC is probably one of the most useful supplements for people with immune deficiencies. It has also been used to reverse liver toxicity caused by high doses of Tylenol and as way to treat mercury poisoning.
It is reasonably priced. I use the Jarrow brand since it has been tested and shown to have the amounts described on the label.
Thanks for asking this question!