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Intestinal Bacteria May Fuel Inflammation and Worsen HIV Disease

Created by paustian on Jul 13, 2013, 3:37 PM

 

Surprisingly, the human body consists of more bacterial cells than human cells. An important region where bacteria reside is the intestinal tract. The bacterial community present plays an important role not only in food absorption, but also in the body’s immune response. The bacterial community is dynamic and adapts as its environment, the human body, changes. As the title suggests, researchers hypothesized that HIV infection would have a significant impact the intestinal bacterial community and that this change in part causes the chronic inflammation found in many HIV patients.

Their results suggest that not only does the bacterial community change, but the intestinal wall itself is also affected. With HIV infection, the bacterial communities contained more Pseudomonas, Salmonella, E. coli, and Staphylococcus. These bacteria can cause inflammation. They also found that the intestinal wall became less able to act as a barrier, meaning that bacteria and their excretions are more able to enter the bloodstream. This can also be a source of inflammation. Chronic inflammation plays a role in the harboring of the HIV virus in the body and is also a cause of premature mortality. It is possible that restoring the bacterial intestinal community back to a more normal population would reduce the level of chronic inflammation, thereby increasing the life expectancy of infected individuals and possibly even eradicating the virus from the body.