Remdesivir does not affect mitochondrial DNA copy number or deletion mutation frequency in aged male rats: A short report

PLoS One. 2022 Oct 26;17(10):e0271850. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0271850. eCollection 2022.


Remdesivir is a leading therapy in patients with moderate to severe coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection; the majority of whom are older individuals. Remdesivir is a nucleoside analog that incorporates into nascent viral RNA, inhibiting RNA-directed RNA polymerases, including that of SARS-CoV-2. Less is known about remdesivir's effects on mitochondria, particularly in older adults where mitochondria are known to be dysfunctional. Furthermore, its effect on age-induced mitochondrial mutations and copy number has not been previously studied. We hypothesized that remdesivir adversely affects mtDNA copy number and deletion mutation frequency in aged rodents. To test this hypothesis, 30-month-old male F333BNF1 rats were treated with remdesivir for three months. To determine if remdesivir adversely affects mtDNA, we measured copy number and mtDNA deletion frequency in rat hearts, kidneys, and skeletal muscles using digital PCR. We found no effects from three months of remdesivir treatment on mtDNA copy number or deletion mutation frequency in 33-month-old rats. These data support the notion that remdesivir does not compromise mtDNA quality or quantity at old age in mammals. Future work should focus on examining additional tissues such as brain and liver, and extend testing to human clinical samples.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Monophosphate / pharmacology
  • Alanine
  • Animals
  • COVID-19*
  • Child, Preschool
  • DNA Copy Number Variations
  • DNA, Mitochondrial* / genetics
  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases / genetics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mammals / genetics
  • Mitochondria / genetics
  • Nucleosides
  • RNA, Viral
  • Rats
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Sequence Deletion


  • Adenosine Monophosphate
  • Alanine
  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases
  • Nucleosides
  • RNA, Viral