Purpose of review
Aging and HIV share features of intestinal damage and alterations in the communities of enteric bacteria, termed dysbiosis. The purpose of this review is to highlight the various features of the gut microbiome in aging and in people with HIV (PWH) and to discuss how aging and HIV converge to impact the gut microbiome. The term microbiome reflects the combined genetic material of micro-organisms present including bacteria, viruses, bacteriophages, and fungi. To date, the majority of studies investigating the impact of aging and HIV on the gut microbiome have focused on bacteria, and therefore, for the purposes of this review, the term ‘microbiome’ is used to reflect enteric bacterial communities.
Aging is associated with alterations in the gut bacterial microbiome. Although changes vary by the age of the population, lifestyle (diet, physical activity) and geographic location, the age-associated dysbiosis is typically characterized by an increase in facultative anaerobes with inflammatory properties and a decrease in obligate anaerobes that play critical roles in maintaining intestinal homeostasis and in regulating host immunity. PWH also have dysbiotic gut microbiomes, many features of which reflect those observed in elderly persons. In one study, the age effect on the gut microbiome differed based on HIV serostatus in older adults.
HIV and age may interact to shape the gut microbiome. Future studies should investigate relationships between the gut microbiome and age-associated comorbidities in older PWH populations. Identifying these links will provide new avenues for treatments and interventions to improve the healthspan and lifespan of older PWH.