A new study found that Lactobacillus plantarum rapidly repaired damaged gut lining (known as leaky gut) in monkeys infected with chronic simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), an HIV-like virus. It linked chronically inflamed leaky gut to the loss of PPAR-alpha signalling and damage to mitochondria. 

By Lena Baumann Is your gut chronically inflamed, and leaky? Well, researchers have identified a possible new solution for you: Lactobacillus plantarum. This bacteria was able to, in only 5 hours, rapidly repair the damaged gut lining – leaky gut – of monkeys suffering from a HIV-like virus (simian immunodeficiency virus SIV.) Notably, an inflamed and leaking gut lining has been shown to interrupt PPARalpha signalling, an important nuclear receptor that senses your nutritional status and is involved in the regulation of your metabolic pathways. This, in turn, disturbs your metabolism and even damages your mitochondria – the important little powerhouses that are responsible for energy production. An inflamed and leaky gut is often seen in HIV patients, and it's with great optimism that this findings opens up possibilities to restore the gut lining and create more treatment options in the future.1-3

HIV induces leaky gut

As we've mentioned, many patients with HIV suffer from a leaky gut, weakened immune system and decreased nutrient absorption. In more severe cases, those three symptoms can often go hand-in-hand and exaggerate each other - worsening your health status even more. A leaky gut means that the tight junctions between the epithelia cells within your gut are not as strong as usual, so some bad bacteria can enter your gut. This occurs as a result of the damage by the aggressive HIV virus, wrecking your gut's epithelial lining and immune cells (mainly CD4+ T cells). In turn, this changes the intestinal microbial composition and PPAR-alpha signalling, and thus, worsens inflammation in your gut: a viscous cycle!3, 4 Luckily, it is already possible to limit the damage to your immune system through anti-retroviral therapy (ART). However, the remaining damaged tissue and epithelial lining within your gut also has to be repaired, the mitochondrial function restored and immune defence re-established. Tough job! Luckily, we do have a hero on hand: the very impressive  L. plantarum!1-3

L. plantarum: our hero

Gut bacteria like L. plantarum are involved in our gut function, supporting its function and repairing any damage, such as on our very important epithelial barrier. Notably, in this research study, the team challenged this bacterial strain even more, by testing its ability to restore gut functions in SIV infected monkeys with an extremely inflamed gut environment. The bacteria mastered this test, and were even able to repair the gut barrier. How did they do this!? Well, L. plantarum is able to change the expression of genes and thereby increase the strength of the tight junctions of your epithelial lining. The bacteria even go so far as to restore mitochondrial function in the intestinal epithelial cells, making energy production possible. With this, your gut immunity and function can be restored – a major symptom of HIV. This is dramatically good news: these findings could translate into a successful HIV treatment and cure! Yes, you read it write: a full-on HIV treatment!1-3, 5
References:
  1. Katti R. Crakes, Clarissa Santos Rocha, Irina Grishina, Lauren A. Hirao, Eleonora Napoli, Christopher A. Gaulke, Anne Fenton, Sandipan Datta, Juan Arredondo, Maria L. Marco, Sumathi Sankaran-Walters, Gino Cortopassi, Cecilia Giulivi, Satya Dandekar. PPARα-targeted mitochondrial bioenergetics mediate repair of intestinal barriers at the host–microbe intersection during SIV infection. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2019; 201908977 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1908977116
  2. University of California - Davis Health. "Mapping the pathway to gut health in HIV and SIV infections: Mechanism for rapid repair of leaky gut." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 November 2019. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/11/191119143246.htm>.
  3. Crakes KR, Jiang G. Gut Microbiome Alterations During HIV/SIV Infection: Implications for HIV Cure. Front Microbiol. 2019 May 22;10:1104. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2019.01104. PMID: 31191468; PMCID: PMC6539195.
  4. Athiyyah AF, Brahmantya H, Dwiastuti S, Darma A, Puspitasari D, Husada D, Ranuh R, Endaryanto A, Surono I, Sudarmo SM. Effect of Lactobacillus plantarum IS-10506 on blood lipopolysaccharide level and immune response in HIV-infected children. Iran J Microbiol. 2019 Apr;11(2):137-144. PMID: 31341568; PMCID: PMC6635306.
  5. Anderson RC, Cookson AL, McNabb WC, Park Z, McCann MJ, Kelly WJ, Roy NC. Lactobacillus plantarum MB452 enhances the function of the intestinal barrier by increasing the expression levels of genes involved in tight junction formation. BMC Microbiol. 2010 Dec 9;10:316. doi: 10.1186/1471-2180-10-316. PMID: 21143932; PMCID: PMC3004893.