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This article is the author’s final published version in Scientific Reports, Volume 12, Issue 1, September 2022, Article number 15094.

The published version is available at Copyright © Chisari et al.


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 affecting the outcome of interventions. We hypothesized that the loss of mucosal barrier in the gut may be associatedto acute and chronic periprosthetic joint infections (PJI). Zonulin, soluble CD14 (sCD14), and lipopolysaccharide (LPS) were tested in plasma as part of a prospective cohort study of patients undergoing primary arthroplasty or revision arthroplasty because of an aseptic failure or PJI (as defined by the 2018 criteria). All blood samples were collected before antibiotic administration. Samples were tested using commercially available enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays as markers for gut permeability. A total of 134 patients were included in the study of which 44 patients had PJI (30 chronic and 14 acute), and the remaining 90 patients were categorized as non-infected that included 64 patients revised for aseptic failure, and 26 patients undergoing primary total joint arthroplasty. Both Zonulin (7.642 ± 6.077 ng/mL vs 4.560 ± 3.833 ng/mL; p < 0.001) and sCD14 levels (555.721 ± 216.659 ng/mL vs 396.872 ± 247.920 ng/mL; p = 0.003) were significantly elevated in the PJI group compared to non-infected cases. Higher levels of Zonulin were found in acute infections compared to chronic PJI (11.595 ± 6.722 ng/mL vs. 5.798 ± 4.841 ng/mL; p = 0.005). This prospective study reveals a possible link between gut permeability and the 'gut-immune-joint axis' in PJI. If this association continues to be borne out with a larger cohort and more in-depth analysis, it will have a clinically significant implication in managing patients with PJI. It may be that in addition to the administration of antimicrobials, patients with PJI and other orthopaedic infections may benefit from administration of gastrointestinal modulators such as pro and prebiotics.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.