Mitochondrial disturbances in HIV pregnancies

AIDS. 2015 Jan 2;29(1):5-12. doi: 10.1097/QAD.0000000000000486.


Background: Mitochondrial consequences from foetal exposure to HIV infection and antiretrovirals could be further investigated.

Objective: The main objective of this study was to evaluate maternofoetal mitochondrial disturbances in HIV infection and antiretroviral administration in human pregnancies as the aetiopathogenic basis of suboptimal perinatal-clinical features.

Design: Cross-sectional, prospective, observational, exploratory and controlled study.

Methods: Clinical/epidemiological data of 35 HIV-infected pregnant women and 17 controls were collected. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and RNA (mtRNA) content (real time-PCR), enzymatic activities and content (spectrophotometry) were measured in leucocytes. Genetic-functional, maternofoetal and molecular-clinical correlations were assessed.

Results: Birth weight was lower in infants from HIV-infected mothers compared with controls. MtDNA values were slightly decreased in HIV cases, although not reaching statistical significance. MtRNA values were lower in HIV-infected mothers. Similarly, binary complex II+III enzymatic activity decreased to 50% in both HIV-infected mothers (44.45 ± 3.77%) and their infants (48.79 ± 3.41%) (P = 0.001 and P < 0.001). Global CI+III+IV enzymatic activity was lower in HIV-infected mothers and infants (90.43 ± 2.39% and 51.16 ± 9.30%) (P < 0.005 and P < 0.05). MtDNA content correlated with function in mothers and infants. Maternofoetal parameters correlated at genetic and functional levels.

Conclusion: HAART toxicity caused mitochondrial damage in HIV-infected pregnant women and their newborns, being present at a genetic and functional level with a maternofoetal correlation.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-HIV Agents / adverse effects*
  • Anti-HIV Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antiretroviral Therapy, Highly Active / adverse effects*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • HIV Infections / transmission
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / prevention & control
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / cytology
  • Male
  • Mitochondria / drug effects*
  • Mitochondria / genetics
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / virology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • RNA / genetics
  • RNA, Mitochondrial


  • Anti-HIV Agents
  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • RNA, Mitochondrial
  • RNA