Objectives: To examine the impact of serum-derived bovine immunoglobulin, an oral medical food known to neutralize bacterial antigen and reduce intestinal inflammation, on restoration of mucosal immunity and gastrointestinal function in individuals with HIV enteropathy.
Design: Open-label trial with intensive 8-week phase of bovine serum immunoglobulin (SBI) 2.5 g twice daily with a 4-week washout period and an optional 9-month extension study.
Methods: HIV enteropathy was defined as chronic gastrointestinal symptoms including frequent loose or watery stools despite no identifiable, reversible cause. Upper endoscopy for tissue immunofluorescent antibody assay and disaccharide gut permeability/absorption studies were performed before and after 8 weeks of SBI to test mucosal immunity and gastrointestinal function. Blood was collected for markers of microbial translocation, inflammation, and collagen kinetics. A validated gastrointestinal questionnaire assessed changes in symptoms.
Results: All eight participants experienced profound improvement in symptoms with reduced bowel movements/day (P = 0.008) and improvements in stool consistency (P = 0.008). Gut permeability was normal before and after the intervention, but D-xylose absorption increased in seven of eight participants. Mucosal CD4 lymphocyte densities increased by a median of 139.5 cells/mm2 from 213 to 322 cells/mm2 (P = 0.016). Intestinal-fatty acid binding protein (I-FABP), a marker of enterocyte damage, initially rose in seven of eight participants after 8 weeks (P = 0.039), and then fell below baseline in four of five who continued receiving SBI (P = 0.12). Baseline serum I-FABP levels were negatively correlated with subsequent rise in mucosal CD4 lymphocyte densities (r = -0.74, P = 0.046).
Conclusion: SBI significantly increases intestinal mucosal CD4 lymphocyte counts, improves duodenal function, and showed evidence of promoting intestinal repair in the setting of HIV enteropathy.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01313910.