Our prior work in HIV cohort studies provides insights into the viral, inflammation, immune activation and antiretroviral therapy related risk factors for HIV-related CVD risk. Yet, an understanding of its pathophysiology remains incomplete. Emerging evidence suggests that gut microbiota (GMB) altered during HIV infection correlates with increased immune activation and disrupted metabolite profiles, but the role of GMB in HIV- related CVD is unknown. Our preliminary data show that in HIV infection, progression of atherosclerosis is associated with higher circulating sCD14, a marker of monocyte activation, and increased tryptophan catabolism. This preliminary work presents two promising candidates linking GMB and CVD risk in HIV infection which we propose to study using integrated ?Omics? approaches. In addition to these hypothesis- driven study aims, we will also generate novel hypotheses linking GMB, host immune activation and metabolomics profiles associated with CVD risk. We will leverage the Women?s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS) and Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS) >20 year follow-up for biospecimens, atherosclerosis and other CVD measures, and HIV parameters. Our longitudinal semi-annual measures allow us to subset individuals according to long-term HIV treatment, disease progression markers (CD4+ T-cell count, viral load), and comorbidity, with inclusion of matched HIV-uninfected participants. In this project, We will extend our established collaborations with leading labs to gather multi-dimensional data among 400 women and men (~65% of whom are HIV+), including stool GMB metagenomics, serum and cellular inflammation and immunologic markers (sCD14, monocyte transcriptomics), metabolomics, and measures (carotid artery ultrasound imaging over 4 year follow-up). Findings from this intensively studied group will then be extended to a larger sample of 746 women and men with metabolomics and longitudinal atherosclerosis data. In this project, we will have the opportunity to identify immune activation and metabolites underlying the role of GMB in CVD, which may be specific to HIV+ individuals, or accentuated in the setting of HIV.

Public Health Relevance

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) has become a major concern in people living with HIV. Our study focuses on the contributions of gut microbiota to host inflammation and immune activation and metabolomics profiles which are closely involved in the development of CVD. Findings will advance our understanding of pathophysiology of HIV-related CVD, and provide novel insights into the prevention and intervention for CVD in HIV+ individuals. Because gut microbiota, related immune activation and metabolic pathways may be suitable for direct intervention and treatment, this study will have important public health implications.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZHL1)
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Chen, Jue
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Albert Einstein College of Medicine
United States
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Moon, Jee-Young; Zolnik, Christine P; Wang, Zheng et al. (2018) Gut microbiota and plasma metabolites associated with diabetes in women with, or at high risk for, HIV infection. EBioMedicine 37:392-400
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