Adding tomato concentrate to the diet may lower the risk of stroke in people with HIV, new research suggests.
Intestinal inflammation can accelerate arterial disease when left untreated, potentially leading to a stroke or heart attack.
Systemic inflammation can persist even when antiviral therapy is effective in controlling a person’s HIV.
The research findings suggest that targeting the inflamed intestinal wall may be a novel way to prevent this from occurring.
Senior author Dr Theodoros Kelesidis, associate professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, said:
“Inflammation is an important process that protects the body from invading infections and toxins.
“But in individuals who are successfully treated for HIV to the point that their viral load is no longer detectable, the continuing low-grade inflammation in the cells of the intestine contributes to an increased risk of heart attack or stroke.”
So-called ‘leaky gut’ is found in HIV patients, where products in gut bacteria move to other parts of the body via the bloodstream.
These products lead to systemic inflammation and can accelerate coronary disease.
The researchers worked with HIV-infected mice whose immune systems had been altered to mimic those of humans.
One group of mice were fed a diet containing the tomato concentrate Tg6F while the others ate a normal diet.
Tg6F comes from a specific genetically-modified tomato and contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant apoA-I mimetic peptides.
The mimic the main protein in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) – the so-called ‘good cholesterol’.
The researchers found that the mice given Tg6F had lower levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines in their gut and blood.
Tg6F was also found to prevent an increase in the protein ADAM17, which orchestrates inflammation in people with chronic HIV.
“Targeting the inflamed intestine with the peptide that mimics the main protein in HDL may be a way of preventing systemic inflammation in people with chronic HIV,” Kelesidis said.
“Giving oral apoA-I mimetics together with oral antivirals may be an attractive novel therapy to treat inflammation and prevent disease and death in HIV.”
The authors noted that mice cannot fully reflect all aspects of human HIV infection.
The also stated that the gut biopsies used to test the effects of apoA-I mimetics do not fully reflect how inflammation works within a living human body.
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