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  • Oral presentation
  • Open Access

Microbial translocation is a cause of systemic immune activation in chronic HIV infection

  • 1
Retrovirology20063 (Suppl 1) :S98

  • Published:


  • Immune Activation
  • Rhesus Macaque
  • Plasma Viral Load
  • Systemic Immune Activation
  • Microbial Translocation

Chronic activation of the immune system is a hallmark of progressive HIV infection and better predicts disease outcome than plasma viral load, yet its etiology remains obscure. Here, we show that circulating microbial products, likely derived from the gastrointestinal tract, are a primary cause of HIV-related systemic immune activation. Circulating lipopolysaccharide, an indicator of microbial translocation, is significantly increased in chronically HIV-infected individuals and SIV-infected rhesus macaques. We show that monocytes are chronically stimulated in vivo by increased lipopolysaccharide, which also correlates with measures of innate and adaptive immune activation. Effective antiretroviral therapy appears to reduce microbial translocation. Furthermore, in non-pathogenic SIV infection of sooty mangabeys, microbial translocation does not seem to occur. These data establish a mechanism for chronic immune activation in the context of a compromised gastrointestinal mucosal surface and provide novel directions for therapeutic interventions that modify the consequences of acute HIV infection.

Authors’ Affiliations

Research Fellow, Vaccine Research Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA


© Brenchley; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2006

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd.