The connection between alcohol and gut health is established in scientific literature: alcohol is an inflammatory agent. But as researchers like Vincent Maffei work to improve the quality of life for HIV patients, every bit of information of how that inflammation develops makes a difference, especially in how alcohol and bowel problems connect.
Listeners will learn
Vincent J. Maffei is with the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Parasitology at LSU. As a graduate student, he became involved in LSU’s Comprehensive Alcohol Research Center (CARC) and studied how dysbiosis accompanies biological aging. He combined this with studying how alcohol affects the intestines, and now studies this specifically with HIV patients. More specifically, he works to find associations between alcohol use and advancing aging in HIV patients and their guts.
He explains to listeners about several players in this complex mix of cause and effect: alcohol and gut health as well as alcohol and HIV patients. He establishes that any amount of alcohol can be harmful to someone suffering from HIV. Combine that with an already-established connection with alcohol and dysbiosis in the gut, and researchers are faced with a very real problem to solve for these patients.
He does a careful job explaining the background to listeners, bringing in other studies more general to alcohol use and explaining its effect on T-cell senescence, which basically means they lack the ability to copy themselves—limiting their ability to fight infection. Senescence is also a characteristic of biological aging. He explains that the administration of alcohol breaks down the gut barrier, allowing microbes to migrate from the lumen of gut into tissue, which causes inflammation.
He also explains their worthy end goal: to identify some sort of microbiota intervention to relieve this component of inflammation in HIV patients, improving their life span and quality of life. Hopefully their findings will lead to more precise mechanisms that can be leveraged in therapeutic modality.
For more, see the CARC website: medschool.lsuhsc.edu/alcoholresearch.
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