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HIV AIDS (Auckl). 2014 May 8;6:69-74. doi: 10.2147/HIV.S60157. eCollection 2014.

Gut and mesenteric lymph node involvement in pediatric patients infected with human immunodeficiency virus.

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Department of Paediatrics, L Sacco University Hospital, Milan, Italy.
Gastroenterology Unit, L Sacco University Hospital, Milan, Italy.



The gastrointestinal tract is a primary target for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). HIV infection causes a depletion of CD4+ T-lymphocytes in gut-associated lymphoid tissue and affects gastrointestinal mucosal integrity and permeability. The gastrointestinal tract has also been suggested as the main reservoir of HIV despite highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). We performed a prospective case-control study to assess gut involvement in HIV-infected patients, either naïve or on HAART, using noninvasive methods such as bowel ultrasound and fecal calprotectin.


Thirty HIV-infected children and youth underwent the following tests: CD4+ T-cell count and HIV viral load, fecal calprotectin, and bowel ultrasound, with the latter evaluating bowel wall thickness and mesenteric lymph nodes. Fecal calprotectin and bowel ultrasound were also assessed in 30 healthy controls matched for age and sex. Fecal calprotectin was measured using a quantitative immunochromatographic point-of-care test, and concentrations ranging from 0 to 200 μg/g were considered to be normal reference values in children.


Fecal calprotectin was normal in 29 HIV-infected patients and was not significantly different from controls (mean values 63.8±42.5 μg/g and 68.3±40.5 μg/g, respectively; P=0.419), and did not correlate with HIV viral load, CD4+ T-cell absolute count and percentage, or HAART treatment. No significant changes were found on bowel ultrasound except for enlarged mesenteric lymph nodes, which were observed in seven HIV-infected patients (23.3%) and two controls (6.6%). This finding was significantly correlated with high HIV viral load (P=0.001) and low CD4+ T-cell percentage (P=0.004).


HIV-infected children did not have significant biochemical or ultrasonographic signs of bowel inflammation. A few patients showed enlarged mesenteric lymph nodes, which correlated with uncontrolled HIV infection.


bowel ultrasound; children; fecal calprotectin; human immunodeficiency virus

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