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J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2012 Jun 1;60(2):111-6. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0b013e318250455e.

Mitochondrial evolution in HIV-infected children receiving first- or second-generation nucleoside analogues.

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Mitochondrial Research Laboratory, Internal Medicine Department, Hospital Clinic of Barcelona, Institut d'Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.



Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) and HIV-related mitochondrial toxicity lead to several adverse effects and have become a major issue, especially in children. The main goal in the treatment of HIV-infected children is to maximize cost-effectiveness while minimizing toxicity. We aimed to study the evolution of mitochondrial parameters over time in children receiving different types antiretroviral regimens.


We followed-up 28 HIV-infected children receiving HAART including either first-generation nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (1gNRTIs; didanosine, zidovudine, or stavudine; n = 15) or second-generation NRTIs (2gNRTIs; the remaining drugs; n = 13) for a period of 2 years for their immunovirological and mitochondrial status, and compared these subjects with a group of untreated HIV-infected patients (n = 10) and uninfected controls (n = 27). We measured T-lymphocyte CD4+ content (flow cytometry), viral load (real-time polymerase chain reaction), and lactate levels (spectrophotometry); we assessed mtDNA content (real-time polymerase chain reaction), mitochondrial protein levels (Western blot), oxidative stress, mitochondrial mass, and electron transport chain function (spectrophotometry) in peripheral blood mononuclear cells.


At the second time point, lactate levels were significantly higher in children on 1gNRTIs compared with those receiving 2gNRTIs (1.28 ± 0.08 vs. 1.00 ± 0.07 mmol/L, respectively; P = 0.022). MtDNA content was similar among all HIV-infected groups and significantly lower than in healthy controls at baseline. Oxidative stress tended to increase over time in all the groups, with no differences among them. However, a significant decrease in cytochrome c oxidase activity was found over time in HIV-infected patients; this decline was greater in the 1gNRTIs group.


HIV infection and the use of 1gNRTIs caused greater mitochondrial damage than 2gNRTIs over time. The higher lactate levels and the significant decrease observed in cytochrome c oxidase activity argue against the use of 1gNRTIs in HIV-infected children when an alternative is available, in accordance with international recommendations.

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