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HIV Infection and Gut Mucosal Immune Function: Updates on Pathogenesis with Implications for Management and Intervention

  • Author(s): Shacklett, Barbara L.
  • Anton, Peter A.
  • et al.
Abstract

HIV is primarily a sexually transmitted infection. However, given that the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) houses most of the body’s lymphocytes, including activated memory CD4+ T cells that are preferential targets for HIV, recent research has focused on the role of the GIT in transmission and pathogenesis. In health, the GIT maintains a balance between immune tolerance and rapid responsiveness. A complex network of innate and adaptive responses maintains this balance, which is severely perturbed in HIV infection. Recent studies have focused on mechanisms of GIT CD4+ T-cell depletion and epithelial disruption in HIV infection, the role of inflammation in accelerating viral dissemination, the kinetics of the adaptive response following transmission, and the extent of T-cell reconstitution following antiretroviral therapy. This review summarizes the results of recent investigations that may have important implications for the development of vaccines, microbicides, and therapeutic interventions for HIV and other mucosal pathogens.

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