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Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2004 Aug 15;199(1):10-9.

Mitochondrial oxidative stress in human hepatoma cells exposed to stavudine.

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Department of Medicine, National Jewish Medical and Research Center, Denver, CO 80206, USA.


The toxicity of nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) is linked to altered mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) replication and subsequent disruption of cellular energetics. This manifests clinically as elevated concentrations of lactate in plasma. The mechanism(s) underlying how the changes in mtDNA replication lead to lactic acidosis remains unclear. It is hypothesized that mitochondrial oxidative stress links the changes in mtDNA replication to mitochondrial dysfunction and ensuing NRTIs toxicity. To test this hypothesis, changes in mitochondrial function, mtDNA amplification efficiency, and oxidative stress were assessed in HepG2-cultured human hepatoblasts treated with the NRTI stavudine (2',3'-didehydro-2',3'-deoxythymidine or d4T) for 48 h. d4T produced significant mitochondrial dysfunction with a 1.5-fold increase in cellular lactate to pyruvate ratios. In addition, d4T caused a dose-dependent decrease in mtDNA amplification and a correlative increase in abundance of markers of mitochondrial oxidative stress. Manganese (III) meso-tetrakis (4-benzoic acid) porphyrin, MnTBAP, a catalytic antioxidant, ameliorated or reversed d4T-induced changes in cell injury, energetics, mtDNA amplification, and mitochondrial oxidative stress. In conclusion, d4T treatment elevates mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS), enhances mitochondrial oxidative stress, and contributes mechanistically to NRTI-induced toxicity. These deleterious events may be potentiated in acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection itself, coinfection (e.g., viral hepatitis), aging, substance, and alcohol use.

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