People’s sexual partners could impact both their gut microbiome and their immune system, according to a new study from the University of Colorado, Denver, done in mice.
Mice that received stool transfers from men who had anal intercourse had different microbiomes than mice whose stool donors only had vaginal intercourse, the study found. When researchers checked the mice’s immune systems, the mice whose stool donors had anal intercourse also showed signs that, were they human, they might have a higher risk of HIV infection.
Specifically, they found an increased number of activated T cells with a particular receptor called CD4 in the mice that received a stool transfer from men who only had anal intercourse. Higher numbers of activated T cells with CD4 have been associated with an increased risk of becoming infected with HIV.
“HIV is still a problem worldwide, and the more we learn about what makes certain populations more susceptible to HIV, the more we can help,” said Laurel Lagenaur, the director of research at Osel. “Understanding that biological component, whether it’s in women or in men, helps us define ways that we can help modulate that.”
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