Mitochondrial Impairment in Well-Suppressed Children with Perinatal HIV-Infection on Antiretroviral Therapy

Jing Shen, Afaaf Liberty, Stephanie Shiau, Renate Strehlau, Sheila Pierson, Faeezah Patel, Liqun Wang, Megan Burke, Avy Violari, Ashraf Coovadia, Elaine J. Abrams, Stephen Arpadi, Marc Foca, Louise Kuhn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Mitochondrial impairment is reported in HIV-infected children receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART), as well as those naive to ART. Whether mitochondrial function recovers with early initiation of ART and sustained viral suppression on long-Term ART is unclear. In this study, we evaluate mitochondrial markers in well-suppressed perinatally HIV-infected children initiated on ART early in life. We selected a cross-sectional sample of 120 HIV-infected children with viral load <400 copies/mL and 60 age-matched uninfected children (22 HIV-exposed uninfected) enrolled in a cohort study in Johannesburg, South Africa. Complex IV (CIV) and citrate synthase (CS) activity were measured by spectrophotometry. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) content relative to nuclear DNA (nDNA) was measured by quantitative real-Time polymerase chain reaction and expressed as copies/nDNA. Mitochondrial markers were impaired in HIV-infected children, including lower mean CIV activities [1.76 vs. 1.40 optical densities (OD)/min], higher risk of a CIV/CS ratio ≤0.22 (third quartile; odds ratio = 3.03, 95% confidence interval: 1.38-6.66), and lower mtDNA content. Children with shorter versus longer ART duration (<6.3 vs. ≥6.3 years) had lower means of CIV activity (1.22-1.58 OD/min) and mtDNA content (386-907 copies/nDNA). There were no differences in mitochondrial markers between children who started ART earlier (<6 months) or later (6-24 months). CIV activity was impaired in children with lower height-for-Age Z-scores (HAZs). Despite early treatment and prolonged viral suppression, HIV-infected children had detectable mitochondrial impairment, particularly among those with stunted growth. Further study is required to determine if continued treatment will lead to full recovery of mitochondrial function in HIV-infected children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-38
Number of pages12
JournalAIDS Research and Human Retroviruses
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • ART
  • HIV
  • children
  • impairment
  • mitochondria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases


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