Reduced Independence in Daily Living Is Associated with the Gut Microbiome in People with HIV and HCV

mSystems. 2020 Oct 13;5(5):e00528-20. doi: 10.1128/mSystems.00528-20.


Alterations in the gut microbiome are associated with neurocognition and related disorders, including in the context of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. However, the connection between the gut microbiome and cognitive decline, gauged by increased dependence in instrumental activities of daily living (IADL), remains largely unexplored in the context of these diseases. Here we characterized the gut microbiome using 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing and untargeted metabolomics with liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry from 347 people with HIV, HIV and HCV, or neither, all of whom underwent a comprehensive neuropsychiatric assessment. We observed that IADL-dependent and -independent HIV-monoinfected (HIV-positive [HIV+]/HCV-negative [HCV-]) and coinfected (HIV+/HCV+) individuals have distinct gut microbiomes. Moreover, we found that dependent individuals with HIV or HIV and HCV were enriched in Bacteroides These results may have implications for the characterization of cognitive decline, as well as the development of potential prevention and treatment strategies for individuals infected with HIV and/or HCV. Of particular interest is the possibility that dietary interventions that are known to modify the microbiome could be used to shift the microbiome toward more favorable states for preserving independence.IMPORTANCE The microbes in the gut and the chemicals they produce by metabolism have been linked to brain function. In earlier work, we showed that infection with two viruses, HIV and HCV, changed the gut microbes and metabolism in ways that were associated with a lifetime history of major depressive disorder. Here, we extend this analysis looking at a measurement of independence in daily living. We find that in individuals with HIV, whether or not they also have HCV, those who reported reduced independence were enriched in a genus of bacteria called Bacteroides This result is interesting because Bacteroides is strongly associated with diets low in carbohydrates and high in animal protein, suggesting that diet changes may help preserve independent living in people living long-term with HIV (although clinical intervention trials would be needed in order to confirm this).

Keywords: IADL; gut microbiome; gut-brain axis; hepatitis C virus; human immunodeficiency virus.