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Plasma Mitochondrial DNA Levels as a Biomarker of Lipodystrophy Among HIV-infected Patients Treated with Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART).

[ Vol. 15 , Issue. 10 ]


Z. Dai, W. Cai, F. Hu, Y. Lan, L. Li, C. Chung, B. Caughey, K. Zhang and X. Tang   Pages 975 - 979 ( 5 )


Lipodystrophy is a common complication in HIV-infected patients taking highly active antiretroviral therapy. Its early diagnosis is crucial for timely modification of antiretroviral therapy. We hypothesize that mitochondrial DNA in plasma may be a potential marker of LD in HIV-infected individuals. In this study, we compared plasma mitochondrial DNA levels in HIV-infected individuals and non-HIV-infected individuals to investigate its potential diagnostic value.

Total plasma DNA was extracted from 67 HIV-infected patients at baseline and 12, 24 and 30 months after initiating antiretroviral therapy. Real-time quantitative PCR was used to determine the mitochondrial DNA levels in plasma. Lipodystrophy was defined by the physician-assessed presence of lipoatrophy or lipohypertrophy in one or more body regions.

The mitochondrial DNA levels in plasma were significantly higher at baseline in HIV-infected individuals than in non-HIV-infected individuals (p<0.05). At month 30, 33 out of 67 patients (49.2%) showed at least one sign of lipodystrophy. The mean plasma mitochondrial DNA levels in lipodystrophy patients were significantly higher compared to those without lipodystrophy at month 24 (p<0.001). The receiver operating curve analysis demonstrated that using plasma mitochondrial DNA level (with cut-off value >5.09 log10 copies/ml) as a molecular marker allowed identification of patients with lipodystrophy with a sensitivity of 64.2% and a specificity of 73.0%.

Our data suggest that mitochondrial DNA levels may help to guide therapy selection with regards to HIV lipodystrophy risk.


Biomarker, highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), lipodystrophy, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), plasma.


Institute for Genomic Medicine, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA

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