Nutrition, Metabolism and GI Research in HIV - CFAR Centers for AIDS Research

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Services for You

The Nutrition, Metabolism, and GI Core provides services to support AIDS research projects by CFAR investigators at Tufts, Brown, and international sites. The network of research on HIV and nutrition/metabolism has expanded to include work in hepatology, pharmacology, cardiovascular disease, neurocognitive function related to nutrition, and applied HIV virology related to clinical outcomes and metabolism. In addition, assistance with international studies and pharmaceutical studies is available.

The following services are provided:

1. Survey Instruments

2. Nutritional services for international studies

  • Recipes and nutritional values of common foods in developing countries
  • Custom data entry and analysis utilizing the Minnesota Database
  • Food security in developing countries
  • Culturally and language approprite tools
  • Onsite training in nutritional assessment techniques

3. Nutritional Status Measurements

  • Body composition studies: anthropometry, bioimpedance, dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) including centralized readings and reporting.
  • Anthropometric training and standardization for other sites & coordinators.
  • Cross-sectional imaging including thigh CT for muscle, subcutaneous fat, abdominal CT for visceral fat, abdominal or peripheral MRI.
  • Energy metabolism measurement: indirect calorimetry and doubly-labeled water studies.
  • Strength and function testing: one-repetition maximum, isokinetic dynamometry, repeated chair stands, six-minute walk.
  • Muscle metabolism and protein turnover: leucine flux and oxidation, urinary creatinine and 3-methyl histidine.
  • Muscle and cytokine studies: biopsy with muscle histology, muscle cells cytokine immunostaining, peripheral cytokine levels, and cytokine production by peripheral blood mononuclear cells.
  • Serum micronutrients: zinc, selenium, retinol, alpha-tocopherol, vitamin C, total carotinoids.

4. Analysis of Nutritional Data

  • Cluster analysis of complex dietary data
  • Patterns of dietary intake by food groups and food value (fiber, glycemic index)

5. Metabolism

  • Insulin resistance measurements : Glucose tolerance tests, insulin- or tolbutamide-modified frequently sampled intravenous glucose tolerance tests, insulin clamp studies.
  • Lipid measurements of total lipid profiles and other predictors of atherosclerosis including lipid subpopulations.
  • Measurements of inflammatory markers including Hs-CRP
  • Determination of cardiovascular disease surrogate markers including radiological studies.
  • Assessment of bone density: DXA scanning, biomarkers of bone formation and resorption
  • Assessment of renal function by: serum cystatin C, guidance on equations used for assessing renal function in HIV with respect to lean body mass
  • Measures of oxidative stress: Urinary F2 isoprostanes, malondialdehyde, total antioxidant performance assay (TAP)

6. Neurocognitive functioning

  • Depression screening
  • Assessment of neurocognitive functioning: Tests of memory, executive function, attention, spatial function, psychomotor speed, mini-mental status exam

7. Applied HIV virology

  • HIV viral load determinations including ultra low viral load dtermination (to 2.5 copes/ml)
  • HIV Genotypic analysis, bulk DNA sequencing, point mutation assays, single genomic sequencing.
  • HIV viral typing by bioinformatics analysis sequencing of ENV V3 domains

8. Pharmacologic services

  • Plasma levels of nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors, protease inhibitors, and non-nucleosside reverse transcriptase inhibitors
  • Pharmacokinetic profiles of probe drugs to assess cytochrome function in the liver and intestine

9. GI Function

  • Markers of intestinal function and malabsorption including: qualitative fecal fat, D-xylose absorption, Lactulose/mannitol permeability, quantitative small bowel cultures, intestinal biopsies
  • Stool examinations including: fecal cultures and ova/parasite analysis, enteroaggregative E. coli, Cryptosporidium testing.

10. Investigational support

  • Assistance in preparation of IND packets
  • Assistance in managing regulatory documents for investigator-initiated clinical studies, reporting of adverse events, DSMB
  • Assistance for investigators who wish to initiate international studies in identifying potential collaborating sites and international investigators who wish to collaborate with the CFAR.
  • Assistance in development of culturally appropriate study materials for international or local studies.
  • Assistance of sample handling for translational studies; including sample preparation, storage, archiving, shipping as needed (including international sites)

11. Access to data and specimens

  • Availability of nutritional databases (dietary intake, body composition, metabolic, and questionnaires) from each of the ongoing cohort and interventional studies
  • Availability of specimen archives: stored plasma and serum from each visit for each of the cohort studies

12. Expertise and advice on the following topics

  • Body composition
  • Dietary intake assessment
  • Energy expenditure and balance
  • Anthropometry
  • Food access and security
  • Hepatitis B and C
  • Diarrhea and malabsorption
  • Micronutrients
  • Special populations: Women, Hispanics, Drug Users
  • Weight loss
  • Obesity
  • Fat redistribution, insulin resistance, and dyslipidemias
  • Gonadal hormone measures
  • Pediatric nutrition
  • Progressive resistance training

View a complete list of our references

For information on our Nutrition, Metabolism & GI Core services,
please contact Chris Wanke, MD ( or
Tamsin Knox, MD (

Lifespan/Tufts/Brown CFAR is funded by the National Institutes of Health.
Please remember to cite the LTB CFAR (Grant P30 AI042853)
in all publications that have benefited from the Center's Core services.