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Mitochondrial DNA depletion and morphologic changes in adipocytes associated with nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor therapy

Nolan, D., Hammond, E., Martin, A., Taylor, L., Herrmann, S., McKinnon, E., Metcalf, C., Latham, B. and Mallal, S. (2003) Mitochondrial DNA depletion and morphologic changes in adipocytes associated with nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor therapy. AIDS, 17 (9). pp. 1329-1338.

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Background: Nucleoside analogue reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI) therapy provides sufficient conditions for progressive subcutaneous fat wasting in HIV-infected patients. As NRTI-induced host toxicity is proposed to involve cellular mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) depletion, determinants of cellular mtDNA copy number and mitochondrial mass in adipocyte samples from NRTI-treated HIV-infected patients and antiretroviral-naive controls were investigated. Adipose tissue morphology was also assessed. Methods: Subcutaneous fat samples were obtained from NRTI-treated, HIV-infected patients (n = 21), antiretroviral therapy-naive HIV-infected controls (n = 11), and HIV-seronegative controls (n = 6). Non-adipocytes were removed by collagenase digestion. Adipocyte mtDNA copies/cell was measured using a real time PCR-based assay, and adipocyte mitochondrial protein content was also measured. Light and electron microscopy were performed on tissue samples. Findings: Adipocyte mtDNA copies/cell values were similar (P = 0.56) in HIV seronegative and HIV-infected control groups. NRTI treatment was associated with reduced adipocyte mtDNA copies/cell, representing mean mtDNA depletion in NRTI-treated individuals of 77.7% compared with the mean value for the HIV-infected control group (P < 0001). Additionally, significant differences were found in adipocyte mtDNA copies/cell between patients receiving stavudine (n = 12, mean mtDNA depletion 87.1%) and zidovudine (n = 9, mean mtDNA depletion 52.1%) (P < 0.001). Adipocyte mitochondrial mass was increased in the stavudine group only (mean increase 289%, P < 0.01). Interpretation: NRTI therapy is associated with mtDNA depletion and mitochondrial proliferation in adipocytes, consistent with the hypothesis that NRTI-induced mtDNA depletion contributes to the pathogenesis of subcutaneous fat wasting. Morphologic assessment also supports a role for NRTI therapy in inducing adipocyte metabolic dysfunction and cell death.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Centre for Clinical Immunology and Biomedical Statistics
Publisher: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins Ltd.
Copyright: © 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
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