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Open Access Research

Synbiotic therapy decreases microbial translocation and inflammation and improves immunological status in HIV-infected patients: a double-blind randomized controlled pilot trial

Luz A González-Hernández1, Luis F Jave-Suarez3, Mary Fafutis-Morris2, Karina E Montes-Salcedo1, Luis G Valle-Gutierrez1, Ariel E Campos-Loza1, Luis Fermin Enciso-Gómez1 and Jaime F Andrade-Villanueva1*

Author Affiliations

1 HIV Unit Hospital Civil de Guadalajara “Fray Antonio Alcalde”, University of Guadalajara, Calle Hospital 278, Colonia Alcalde Barranquitas, Guadalajara, Jalisco, 44280, Mexico

2 Centro Universitario de Ciencias de la Salud (CUCS), UdeG, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico

3 Centro de Investigación Biomédicas de Occidente (CIBO), Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (IMSS), Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico

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Nutrition Journal 2012, 11:90  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-11-90

Published: 29 October 2012



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 16 weeks.


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.