The gut microbiome and HIV-1 pathogenesis: a two-way street

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HIV-1 infection is associated with substantial damage to the gastrointestinal tract resulting in structural impairment of the epithelial barrier and a disruption of intestinal homeostasis. The accompanying translocation of microbial products and potentially microbes themselves from the lumen into systemic circulation has been linked to immune activation, inflammation, and HIV-1 disease progression. The importance of microbial translocation in the setting of HIV-1 infection has led to a recent focus on understanding how the communities of microbes that make up the intestinal microbiome are altered during HIV-1 infection and how they interact with mucosal immune cells to contribute to inflammation. This review details the dysbiotic intestinal communities associated with HIV-1 infection and their potential link to HIV-1 pathogenesis. We detail studies that begin to address the mechanisms driving microbiota-associated immune activation and inflammation and the various treatment strategies aimed at correcting dysbiosis and improving the overall health of HIV-1-infected individuals. Finally, we discuss how this relatively new field of research can advance to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the contribution of the gut microbiome to HIV-1 pathogenesis.

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