Journal Article

Progressive Mitochondrial Compromise in Brains and Livers of Primates Exposed <i>In Utero</i> to Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NRTIs)

Rao L. Divi, Tracey L. Einem, Sarah L. Leonard Fletcher, Marie E. Shockley, Maryanne M. Kuo, Marisa C. St Claire, Anthony Cook, Kunio Nagashima, Steven W. Harbaugh, Jeffrey W. Harbaugh and Miriam C. Poirier

in Toxicological Sciences

Volume 118, issue 1, pages 191-201
Published in print November 2010 | ISSN: 1096-6080
Published online August 2010 | e-ISSN: 1096-0929 | DOI:
Progressive Mitochondrial Compromise in Brains and Livers of Primates Exposed In Utero to Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NRTIs)

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Mitochondrial compromise has been documented in infants born to women infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) who received nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI) therapy during pregnancy. To model these human exposures, we examined mitochondrial integrity at birth and 1 year in brain cortex and liver from offspring of retroviral-free Erythrocebus patas dams-administered human-equivalent NRTI doses for the last half (10 weeks) of gestation. Additional infants, followed for 1 year, were given the same drugs as their mothers for the first 6 weeks of life. Exposures included: no drug, Zidovudine (AZT), Lamivudine (3TC), AZT/3TC, AZT/Didanosine (ddI), and Stavudine (d4T)/3TC. In brain and liver, oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) enzyme activities (complexes I, II, and IV) showed minimal differences between unexposed and NRTI-exposed offspring at both times. Brain and liver mitochondria from most NRTI-exposed patas, both at birth and 1 year of age, contained significant (p < 0.05) morphological damage observed by electron microscopy (EM), based on scoring of coded photomicrographs. Brain and liver mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) levels in NRTI-exposed patas were depleted significantly in the 3TC and d4T/3TC groups at birth and were depleted significantly (p < 0.05) at 1 year in all NRTI-exposed groups. In 1-year-old infants exposed in utero to NRTIs, mtDNA depletion was 28.8–51.8% in brain and 37.4–56.5% in liver. These investigations suggest that some NRTI-exposed human infants may sustain similar mitochondrial compromise in brain and liver and should be followed long term for cognitive integrity and liver function.

Keywords: Zidovudine; Lamivudine; Stavudine; Didanosine; electron microscopy; mitochondrial DNA quantity; oxidative phosphorylation

Journal Article.  7066 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medical Toxicology ; Toxicology (Non-medical)

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