Abstract: People living with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) have an elevated risk of opioid misuse due to both prescriptions for HIV-associated chronic pain and because injection drug use remains a primary mode of HIV transmission. HIV pathogenesis is characterized by chronic immune activation and microbial dysbiosis, and translocation across the gut barrier exacerbating inflammation. Despite the high rate of co-occurrence, little is known about the microbiome during chronic opioid use in the context of HIV and combination antiretroviral therapy (cART). We recently demonstrated the reduction of the CD4 + T-cell reservoir in lymphoid tissues but increased in microglia/macrophage reservoirs in CNS by using morphine-treated, simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)-infected rhesus macaques with viremia suppressed by cART. To understand whether morphine may perturb the gut-brain axis, fecal samples were collected at necropsy, DNA isolated, and 16S rRNA sequenced and changes of the microbiome analyzed. We found that morphine treatment led to dysbiosis, primarily characterized by expansion of Bacteroidetes, particularly Prevotellaceae, at the expense of Firmicutes and other members of healthy microbial communities resulting in a lower α-diversity. Of the many genera in Prevotellaceae, the differences between the saline and morphine group were primarily due to a higher relative abundance of Prevotella_9, the taxa most similar to Prevotella copri, an inflammatory pathobiont in the human microbiome. These findings reinforce previous research showing that opioid abuse is associated with dysbiosis, therefore, warranting additional future research to elucidate the complex interaction between the host and opioid abuse during HIV and SIV infection. Graphical abstract: [InlineMediaObject not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-14
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • Combination antiretroviral Therapy
  • Macaque models
  • Microbiome
  • Opioids
  • Simian immunodeficiency virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology


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