Enteric pathogens associated with gastrointestinal dysfunction in children with HIV infection

Asuncion G. Ramos-Soriano, Jose M. Saavedra, Tzyy Choou Wu, Robert A. Livingston, Robin A. Henderson, Jay A. Perman, Robert H. Yolken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Infants and young children with HIV infection commonly suffer from gastrointestinal manifestations of their disease. Many HIV infected children have evidence of persistent diarrhoea, malabsorption, malnutrition or growth failure. The aetiology and pathogenesis of gastrointestinal dysfunction in HIV infected children have not been well defined. We performed immunocytochemical analyses on intestinal tissue from 19 HIV-infected children with gastrointestinal dysfunction or growth failure. None of these 19 children had microbial pathogens identified in faecal samples using standard microbiological methods. Intestinal tissues were obtained from the children by biopsy and were examined for antigens from Pneumocystis carinii, cytomegalovirus (CMV) and herpes simplex virus (HSV) using the avidin-biotin-complex immunohistochemical technique and monoclonal or monospecific antibodies. We detected at least one of these pathogens in samples from eight (42%) of 19 HIV infected children. P. carinii was the most prevalent pathogen, found in five of the eight HIV infected children. All of the children with intestinal pneumocystis infection were receiving prophylaxis directed at the prevention of pulmonary disease with this organism and none of them were undergoing active pulmonary infection. We also identified CMV antigens in intestinal tissues from four children and HSV antigens in intestinal tissues from one child. Two children were infected with more than one pathogen. On the other hand, none of these pathogens were found in the tissues obtained from 10 HIV-uninfected patients who had intestinal tissues obtained for chronic non-infectious diarrheal and inflammatory diseases (P < 0.01, Fisher's exact test). Our findings indicate that some children with HIV infection and gastrointestinal dysfunction may be infected with opportunistic pathogens despite negative analyses employing standard microbiological methods. Our study also indicates that HIV infected children can undergo intestinal infection with P. carinii despite the administration of standard immunoprophylactic regimens directed at the prevention of infection with this organism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-73
Number of pages7
JournalMolecular and Cellular Probes
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1996


  • Chronic diarrhoea
  • Enteric pathogens
  • Failure to thrive
  • P. carinii
  • Pediatric HIV

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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