Objective: Although most uninfected infants born to women infected with HIV-1 show no clinical evidence of mitochondrial compromise, mitochondrial dysfunction has been reported in children born to women receiving zidovudine and/or lamivudine during pregnancy. In this pilot study we examined mitochondrial integrity in HIV-1-uninfected infants born to HIV-1-infected women receiving Combivir during pregnancy.
Design: : Samples of umbilical cord and cord blood were obtained from HIV-1-uninfected infants born to either HIV-1-infected women receiving Combivir therapy during pregnancy (n = 10) or HIV-1-uninfected women (n = 9).
Methods: Mitochondrial morphological integrity was examined in umbilical cords (n = 16) by electron microscopy and mtDNA quantity was determined in DNA from cord blood (n = 18) and umbilical cord (n = 18) by PCR-chemiluminescence immunoassay detection.
Results: In umbilical cords from six of nine infants born to HIV-1-infected mothers taking Combivir moderate to severe mitochondrial morphological damage was observed (P = 0.011), while none of seven unexposed infants showed similar damage. Compared to unexposed infants, statistically significant mtDNA depletion was observed in umbilical cord (P = 0.006) and cord blood (P = 0.003) from drug-exposed infants.
Conclusions: A cohort of HIV-1-uninfected Combivir-exposed infants with no clinical symptoms showed morphological and molecular evidence of mitochondrial damage.