Studies demonstrate that Tropheryma whipplei (T. whipplei) is present in the lungs of healthy individuals without acute respiratory symptoms or acute respiratory infection and is more common in the lungs of HIV-infected individuals and in smokers. The impact of T. whipplei colonization in the lung on local inflammation and pulmonary dysfunction in HIVinfected individuals is currently unknown. In this study, we performed specific polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and sequencing for T. whipplei in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) and induced sputum (IS) samples in 76 HIV-infected participants from three clinical sites. Pulmonary function and proinflammatory cytokine and chemokine levels in BAL were measured. Frequency of T. whipplei in either BAL or IS was 43.4%. The sensitivity and specificity of IS compared to BAL for detection of T. whipplei was 92.3% and 84.2%, respectively, and isolates of T. whipplei in the BAL and IS in the same subject shared genetic identity. Pulmonary function measures were not associated with T. whipplei colonization, and proinflammatory cytokine and chemokine levels in BAL and plasma as well as percentages of inflammatory cells in BAL and IS were not higher in colonized individuals. Overall, these results indicate that T. whipplei colonization in the lung is common, but may not be associated with decreased pulmonary function or inflammation in HIV-infected individuals.
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