Immunomodulation of Antiretroviral Drug-Suppressed Chronic HIV-1 Infection in an Oral Probiotic Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trial

AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses October 2014, 30(10): 988-995. doi:10.1089/aid.2014.0181.

Yang Otto O., Kelesidis Theodoros, Cordova Robert, and Khanlou Homayoon


A putative source of inappropriate immune activation that drives human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 immunopathogenesis is the gastrointestinal tract. Even with effective antiretroviral treatment, residual activation persists. We hypothesized that an oral probiotic could improve the residual immune activation in chronic treated HIV-1 infection, and tested a Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086 capsule probiotic in HIV-1-infected persons with suppressed viremia on stable antiretroviral therapy in a 3-month double-blind placebo-controlled trial (10 probiotic, 7 placebo). The Gastrointestinal Symptom Rating Scale (GSRS) was administered monthly. Blood was tested at the start and end of placebo/probiotic administration for viremia, CD4+ T cell percentage/concentration, soluble (s)CD14, soluble intestinal fatty acid binding protein, sCD163, D-dimer, C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-8, and tumor necrosis factor-α. All participants maintained viremia <40 RNA copies/ml. The probiotic was safe and well tolerated, and appeared to improve chronic gastrointestinal symptoms. Its administration was associated with a significant increase in the percentage of blood CD4+ T cells compared to placebo (+2.8% versus −1.8%, p=0.018) although CD4+ T cell concentrations were generally unchanged in both groups. None of the biomarkers showed significant changes on probiotic treatment or between-group differences in change (although significance was borderline for a greater sCD163 drop in the probiotic versus placebo group, p=0.05). Some biomarkers showed significant correlations to each other, particularly D-dimer with CRP and sCD14 with tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α. These data demonstrate the safety and possible benefit of this probiotic for residual inflammation in treated HIV-1 infection, although further study will be required to determine the immune pathways involved.


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