HIV-infection results in damage and dysfunction of the gastrointestinal system. HIV enteropathy includes pronounced CD4+ T-cell loss, increased intestinal permeability, and microbial translocation that promotes systemic immune activation, which is implicated in disease progression. A synbiotic is the combination of probiotics and prebiotics that could improve gut barrier function. Our study goal was to determine whether the use of a synbiotic, probiotics or a prebiotic can recover immunological parameters in HIV-infected subjects through of a reduction of microbial translocation and pro-inflammatory cytokine production.
A randomized, double-blind controlled study was performed; twenty Antiretroviral treatment-naïve HIV-infected subjects were subgrouped and assigned to receive a synbiotic, probiotics, a prebiotic, or a placebo throughout 16weeks.
We had no reports of serious adverse-events. From baseline to week 16, the synbiotic group showed a reduction in bacterial DNA concentrations in plasma (p=0.048). Moreover, the probiotic and synbiotic groups demonstrated a decrease in total bacterial load in feces (p=0.05). The probiotic group exhibited a significant increment of beneficial bacteria load (such as Bifidobacterium; p=0.05) and a decrease in harmful bacteria load (such as Clostridium; p=0.063). In the synbiotic group, the CD4+ T-cells count increased (median: +102 cells/μL; p=0.05) and the level of Interleukin 6 cytokine decreased significantly (p=0.016).
Our study showed a significant increase in CD4+ T lymphocyte levels in the synbiotic group, which could delay the initiation of antiretroviral therapy and decrease costs in countries with limited resources.