A growing number of recent investigations on the human genome, gut microbiome, and proteomics suggests that the loss of mucosal barrier function, particularly in the gastrointestinal tract, may substantially affect antigen trafficking, ultimately influencing the close bidirectional interaction between the gut microbiome and the immune system. This cross-talk is highly influential in shaping the host immune system function and ultimately shifting genetic predisposition to clinical outcome. Therefore, we hypothesized that a similar interaction could affect the occurrence of acute and chronic periprosthetic joint infections (PJI).
Multiple biomarkers of gut barrier disruption were tested in parallel in plasma samples collected as part of a prospective cohort study of patients undergoing revision arthroplasty for aseptic or PJI (As defined by the 2018 ICM criteria). All blood samples were collected before any antibiotic was administered. Samples were tested for Zonulin, soluble CD14 (sCD14), and lipopolysaccharide (LPS) using commercially available enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. Statistical analysis consisted of descriptive statistics and ANOVA.
A total of 96 patients were consented and included in the study. 32 were classified as PJI (23 chronic and 9 acute), and 64 as aseptic. Both Zonulin and LPS were found to be increased in the acute PJI group 8.448 ± 7.726 ng/mL and 4.106 ± 4.260 u/mL, compared to chronic PJI (p<0.001) and aseptic revisions (p=0.025). sCD14 was found to be increased in both chronic (0.463 ± 0.168 ug/mL) and acute PJI (0.463 ± 0.389 ug/mL) compared to aseptic revisions (p<0.001).
This prospective ongoing study reveals a possible link between gut permeability and the ‘gut-immune-joint axis’ in PJI. If this association continues to be born out with larger cohort recruitment, it would have a massive implication in managing patients with PJI. In addition to the administration of antimicrobials, patients with PJI and other orthopedic infections may require gastrointestinal modulators such as pro and prebiotics.