HIV infection results in the development of immunodeficiency mainly due to the apoptosis of infected and
bystander CD4 cells. The aim of the study was to follow the mitochondrial dependent pathway of apoptosis, one of the
suggested mechanisms of above process.
The inner mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP), Adenosine-5'-triphosphate (ATP) generation, apoptosis and necrosis
markers of peripheral mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were compared in HIV infected patients and HIV negative control
group. The correlation of blood viral load, TNFα concentration, CD4 cells count and duration of ARV therapy was
considered. Additionally, group of HIV infected ARV-naive patients was involved for the follow-up study and the effects
of one year of ARV therapy on measured parameters were studied.
PBMCs of HIV infected individuals (especially without ARV therapy) demonstrated lower MMP and ATP generation and
higher percentage of apoptotic/necrotic PBMCs. Correlation between blood TNFα level and mitochondrial dysfunction
was observed. The first months of ARV therapy resulted in most significant restoration of mitochondrial function and
living PBMCs count.
HIV infection and ARV therapy have significant impact on mitochondrial function and apoptosis of PBMCs. They are
driven by abnormal mitochondrial function apoptosis of immune cells which seems to be the key element leading to
immunosuppression, thus an early intervention in this process by therapy can be beneficial for symptomatology of HIV