Gut microbiota, circulating inflammatory markers and metabolites, and carotid artery atherosclerosis in HIV infection

Zheng Wang, Brandilyn A. Peters, MacKenzie K. Bryant, David B. Hanna, Tara Schwartz, Tao Wang, Christopher C. Sollecito, Mykhaylo Usyk, Evan Grassi, Fanua Wiek, Lauren St Peter, Wendy S. Post, Alan L. Landay, Howard N. Hodis, Kathleen M. Weber, Audrey French, Elizabeth T. Golub, Jason Lazar, Deborah Gustafson, Anjali SharmaKathryn Anastos, Clary B. Clish, Robert D. Burk, Robert C. Kaplan, Rob Knight, Qibin Qi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Alterations in gut microbiota have been implicated in HIV infection and cardiovascular disease. However, how gut microbial alterations relate to host inflammation and metabolite profiles, and their relationships with atherosclerosis, have not been well-studied, especially in the context of HIV infection. Here, we examined associations of gut microbial species and functional components measured by shotgun metagenomics with carotid artery plaque assessed by B-mode carotid artery ultrasound in 320 women with or at high risk of HIV (65% HIV +) from the Women’s Interagency HIV Study. We further integrated plaque-associated microbial features with serum proteomics (74 inflammatory markers measured by the proximity extension assay) and plasma metabolomics (378 metabolites measured by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry) in relation to carotid artery plaque in up to 433 women. Results: Fusobacterium nucleatum, a potentially pathogenic bacteria, was positively associated with carotid artery plaque, while five microbial species (Roseburia hominis, Roseburia inulinivorans, Johnsonella ignava, Odoribacter splanchnicus, Clostridium saccharolyticum) were inversely associated with plaque. Results were consistent between women with and without HIV. Fusobacterium nucleatum was positively associated with several serum proteomic inflammatory markers (e.g., CXCL9), and the other plaque-related species were inversely associated with proteomic inflammatory markers (e.g., CX3CL1). These microbial-associated proteomic inflammatory markers were also positively associated with plaque. Associations between bacterial species (especially Fusobacterium nucleatum) and plaque were attenuated after further adjustment for proteomic inflammatory markers. Plaque-associated species were correlated with several plasma metabolites, including the microbial metabolite imidazole-propionate (ImP), which was positively associated with plaque and several pro-inflammatory markers. Further analysis identified additional bacterial species and bacterial hutH gene (encoding enzyme histidine ammonia-lyase in ImP production) associated with plasma ImP levels. A gut microbiota score based on these ImP-associated species was positively associated with plaque and several pro-inflammatory markers. Conclusion: Among women living with or at risk of HIV, we identified several gut bacterial species and a microbial metabolite ImP associated with carotid artery atherosclerosis, which might be related to host immune activation and inflammation. [MediaObject not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number119
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Gut microbiota
  • HIV infection
  • Inflammatory markers
  • Metabolomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)


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