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