The impact of HIV infection on lactose absorptive capacity

G. R. Corazza, L. Ginaldi, N. Furia, G. Marani-Toro, D. Di Giammartino, D. Quaglino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Forty HIV-infected adult patients at different disease stages and 44 healthy volunteers were evaluated for lactose malabsorption using the hydrogen breath test after 20 g lactose ingestion. All subjects were previously tested for breath hydrogen (H2) excretion after 12 g lactulose ingestion. The presence of intestinal superinfections, gastrointestinal symptoms and the intensity of clinical intolerance after lactose load were accurately searched in each patient. The cumulative H2 excretion after lactulose did not significantly differ between the different groups studied. The prevalence of lactose malabsorption turned out to be significantly higher (P <0.001) in HIV-infected patients (70%) than in controls (34%). Moreover, in patients in more advanced disease stages the degree of lactose malabsorption was significantly greater than in patients at earlier disease stages, who did not differ from healthy volunteers. Furthermore the degree of lactose intolerance was significantly greater (P <0.001) in symptomatic patients than in those without intestinal symptoms and in healthy volunteers, while no significant difference was observed between these latter groups. The results here demonstrate the negative impact of HIV infection on lactose absorptive capacity in adult patients, particularly marked in more advanced stages of the disease, suggesting that, in addition to the presence of the virus alone, other factors may contribute to determine the enterokinetic alterations responsible for lactase deficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-35
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Infection
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Microbiology
  • Parasitology
  • Virology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Infectious Diseases


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