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 infected patients.