Increased mucosal neutrophil survival is associated with altered microbiota in HIV infection

PLoS Pathog. 2019 Apr 11;15(4):e1007672. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1007672. eCollection 2019 Apr.


Gastrointestinal (GI) mucosal dysfunction predicts and likely contributes to non-infectious comorbidities and mortality in HIV infection and persists despite antiretroviral therapy. However, the mechanisms underlying this dysfunction remain incompletely understood. Neutrophils are important for containment of pathogens but can also contribute to tissue damage due to their release of reactive oxygen species and other potentially harmful effector molecules. Here we used a flow cytometry approach to investigate increased neutrophil lifespan as a mechanism for GI neutrophil accumulation in chronic, treated HIV infection and a potential role for gastrointestinal dysbiosis. We report that increased neutrophil survival contributes to neutrophil accumulation in colorectal biopsy tissue, thus implicating neutrophil lifespan as a new therapeutic target for mucosal inflammation in HIV infection. Additionally, we characterized the intestinal microbiome of colorectal biopsies using 16S rRNA sequencing. We found that a reduced Lactobacillus: Prevotella ratio associated with neutrophil survival, suggesting that intestinal bacteria may contribute to GI neutrophil accumulation in treated HIV infection. Finally, we provide evidence that Lactobacillus species uniquely decrease neutrophil survival and neutrophil frequency in vitro, which could have important therapeutic implications for reducing neutrophil-driven inflammation in HIV and other chronic inflammatory conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Colon / immunology*
  • Colon / microbiology
  • Colon / pathology
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / immunology*
  • HIV Infections / immunology*
  • HIV Infections / virology
  • HIV-1 / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / immunology*
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neutrophils / cytology
  • Neutrophils / immunology*
  • Rectum / immunology*
  • Rectum / microbiology
  • Rectum / pathology