Introduction: The impaired host defense system in HIV infection impacts the oral and gastrointestinal microbiota and associated opportunistic infections. Antiretroviral treatment is predicted to partially restore host defenses and decrease the oral manifestation of HIV/AIDS. Well-designed longitudinal studies are needed to better understand the interactions of soluble host defense proteins with bacteria and virus in HIV/AIDS. "Crosstalk" was designed as a longitudinal study of host responses along the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and interactions between defense molecules and bacteria in HIV infection and subsequent therapy.
Purpose: The clinical core formed the infrastructure for the study of the interactions between the proteome, microbiome and innate immune system. The core recruited and retained study subjects, scheduled visits, obtained demographic and medical data, assessed oral health status, collected samples, and guided analysis of the hypotheses. This manuscript presents a well-designed clinical core that may serve as a model for studies that combine clinical and laboratory data.
Methods: Crosstalk was a case-control longitudinal clinical study an initial planned enrollment of 170 subjects. HIV+ antiretroviral naïve subjects were followed for 9 visits over 96 weeks and HIV uninfected subjects for 3 visits over 24 weeks. Clinical prevalence of oral mucosal lesions, dental caries and periodontal disease were assessed.
Results: During the study, 116 subjects (47 HIV+, 69 HIV-) were enrolled. Cohorts of HIV+ and HIV-were demographically similar except for a larger proportion of women in the HIV-group. The most prevalent oral mucosal lesions were oral candidiasis and hairy leukoplakia in the HIV+ group.
Discussion: The clinical core was essential to enable the links between clinical and laboratory data. The study aims to determine specific differences between oral and GI tissues that account for unique patterns of opportunistic infections and to delineate the differences in their susceptibility to infection by HIV and their responses post-HAART.
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