Background: HIV-infected immunological nonresponders (INRs) have increased risk of non-AIDS morbidity and compromised gut barrier immunity. Probiotics are widely used to improve health. We assessed the effects of probiotics in INRs with a comprehensive analysis of gut immunity and microbiome in terminal ileum and sigmoid colon.
Methods: The study involved clinical intervention with five-strain probiotic capsules (1.2 × 1010 CFUs/d) for 8 weeks in 20 INRs with CD4+ T-cell counts <400 cells/µL and plasma HIV RNA <50 copies/mL for more than 3.5 years. Colonoscopy with sampling of gut biopsies from terminal ileum and sigmoid colon and fecal and blood sampling were performed before and after the intervention. Flow cytometry (cytokine production, immune activation, and exhaustion), ELISA (inflammation, microbial translocation, and enterocyte damage), and 16S rRNA sequencing analyses were applied.
Results: In the terminal ileum, increased alpha diversity, increased abundance of Bifidobacterium sp., and decreased frequencies of IL-22+ CD4+ T cells were observed. The increased abundance of Bifidobacterium sp. in the terminal ileum correlated with increased fraction of CD4+ T cells in the same compartment (r = 0.54, P = 0.05) and increased CD4/CD8 ratio in peripheral blood (r = 0.49, P = 0.05). There were no corresponding changes in the sigmoid colon and no changes in fecal microbiome. Probiotic intervention did not affect peripheral blood CD4 count, viral load, or soluble markers of inflammation and microbial translocation.
Conclusions: Probiotics induced segment-specific changes in the terminal ileum but did not affect systemic CD4 counts in INRs. Further clinical studies are warranted to recommend probiotics to INRs.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02640625.
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