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AIDS. 2005 Oct 14;19(15):1627-33.

Effect of treatment interruption monitored by CD4 cell count on mitochondrial DNA content in HIV-infected patients: a prospective study.

Author information

  • 1Clinic of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy. crimuss@unimo.it



HIV infection per se and HAART can alter mitochondrial functionality, leading to a decrease in mitochondrial DNA content.


To evaluate whether treatment interruption monitored by CD4 cell count can restore mitochondrial DNA content in peripheral blood lymphocytes.


Mitochondrial DNA content was measured in platelet-free CD4 and CD8 T cells by real-time polymerase chain reaction; flow cytometry was used to identify and quantify activated CD4 and CD8 T lymphocytes.


The 30 patients had been treated for a mean of 107 months (range, 27-197). Median CD4 cell count at discontinuation was 702 cells/microl (range, 547-798). Median observational time from HAART discontinuation was 11.3 months (range, 4-26). Discontinuation of treatment provoked significant increases in mitochondrial DNA in CD8 T cells, which started only 6 months after therapy discontinuation [5.12 copies/cell per month from 0 to 6 months (P = 0.37) and 26.96 copies/cell per month from 6 to 12 months (P < 0.0001)].


This study is the first showing that mitochondrial DNA content can increase in peripheral blood lymphocytes during treatment interruption, but only after at least 6 months of interruption. Consequently, interruptions of shorter periods, whether by clinician or patient decision, are unlikely to allow restoration of mitochondrial DNA and so decrease HAART-related toxicity.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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