Effect of HAART on beneficial gut microbes
Apr 6, 2012
Friendly gut flora produce 75% of the vitamin K used in the body, diet provides the other 25%. Vit K supports better bone mineral health by stimulating production of osteoblasts, and reducing osteoclast activity. Good gut flora produce acetate, butyrate and propionate: short chain fatty acids that travel to the liver and down regulate cholesterol production. Have you been seeing any information on how much HAART disrupts the growth of healthy gut microbes?
Response from Mr. Vergel
There are some interesting studies about the effects of friendly gut bacteria on gut inflammation and immune parameters.
The human body, consisting of about 10 trillion cells, carries about ten times as many microorganisms in the intestines. The metabolic activities performed by these bacteria resemble those of an organ, leading some to liken gut bacteria to a "forgotten" organ.
An Italian study found that impairment of the GI tract in HIV-positive patients is present already in the early phases of HIV disease with alterations in the gut microbe population, confirming a possible correlation between intestinal microbial alteration, GI mucosal damage, and immune activation status. Early Impairment of Gut Function and Gut Flora in HIV Disease
Gut flora can also be destroyed with the use of antibiotics commonly used in HIV.
I have a special interest in this topic because, like many of my HIV-infected peers, I have not had a normal bowel movement since I got infected with HIV -- that's before I even started antiretrovirals. Digestive issues such as bloating, soft stools and gas are some of the other main complaints among many of us. In my case, these problems have not improved much, even after switching to protease inhibitor/ritonavir (Norvir)-free antiretroviral combinations. I wrote a short piece about it after coming back from a conference in Rome: A "Gut Feeling" Emerges in HIV
A study done in monkeys presented at CROI-2012 determined that SIV+ animals given probiotics and antiretroviral (ARV) had enhanced reconstitution of CD4+ T cells in the colon (almost double the CD4 cell counts attained by the ARV alone group) . Furthermore, probiotic treatment decreased the activation of CD4+ T cells in the colon and increased the overall functionality of colon CD4+ T cells as measured by multifunctional cytokine production, with indications of enhanced mucosal immunity. We may expect similar results in humans, but studies need to be perfomed. Here is a short piece I wrote about it: Do Friendly Bugs Improve Immune Function?
So, as you can see, there is some exciting research about the role of friendly gut bugs on metabolism, immune function and inflammation.
I take the supplement called Culturelle
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