Among older adults, age-related changes in the stool microbiome differ by HIV-1 serostatus

EBioMedicine. 2019 Feb:40:583-594. doi: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2019.01.033. Epub 2019 Jan 23.


Background: HIV-1 infection and physiological aging are independently linked to elevated systemic inflammation and changes in enteric microbial communities (dysbiosis). However, knowledge of the direct effect of HIV infection on the aging microbiome and potential links to systemic inflammation is lacking.

Methods: In a cross-sectional study of older people living with HIV (PLWH) (median age 61.5 years, N = 14) and uninfected controls (median 58 years, n = 22) we compared stool microbiota, levels of microbial metabolites (short-chain fatty acid levels, SCFA) and systemic inflammatory biomarkers by HIV serostatus and age.

Findings: HIV and age were independently associated with distinct changes in the stool microbiome. For example, abundances of Enterobacter and Paraprevotella were higher and Eggerthella and Roseburia lower among PLWH compared to uninfected controls. Age-related microbiome changes also differed by HIV serostatus. Some bacteria with inflammatory potential (e.g. Escherichia) increased with age among PLWH, but not controls. Stool SCFA levels were similar between the two groups yet patterns of associations between individual microbial taxa and SCFA levels differed. Abundance of various genera including Escherichia and Bifidobacterium positively associated with inflammatory biomarkers (e.g. soluble Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptors) among PLWH, but not among controls.

Interpretation: The age effect on the gut microbiome and associations between microbiota and microbial metabolites or systemic inflammation differed based on HIV serostatus, raising important implications for the impact of therapeutic interventions, dependent on HIV serostatus or age.

Keywords: Aging; HIV; Inflammation; Microbiome; Short chain fatty acids (SCFA).

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Computational Biology / methods
  • Diet
  • Dysbiosis
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile / metabolism
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • HIV Infections / virology*
  • HIV Seropositivity
  • HIV-1*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metagenome
  • Metagenomics / methods
  • Middle Aged


  • Biomarkers
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile