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Original article

Proteomic analysis identifies prohibitin down-regulation as a crucial event in the mitochondrial damage observed in HIV-infected patients

Fabiola Ciccosanti, Marco Corazzari, Fabio Soldani, Paola Matarrese, Vittoria Pagliarini, Valentina Iadevaia, Antonella Tinari, Mauro Zaccarelli, Jean-Luc Perfettini, Walter Malorni, Guido Kroemer, Andrea Antinori, Gian Maria Fimia, Mauro Piacentini

Corresponding author name: Gian Maria Fimia
Corresponding author e-mail: gianmaria.fimia@inmi.it

Citation: Antiviral Therapy 2010; 15:377-390
doi: 10.3851/IMP1530

Date accepted: 27 November 2009
Date published online: 24 April 2010


Background: Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has largely reduced the occurrence of AIDS-related diseases and death in HIV-infected patients. However, HAART produces serious side effects mainly attributed to mitochondrial toxicity.

Methods: To elucidate the molecular basis of HAART-related dysfunctions, we analysed the mitochondrial proteome of peripheral blood mononuclear cells from HIV-infected patients using two-dimensional gel electrophoresis and MALDI-TOF/TOF mass spectrometry. Proteomic analysis was performed on HIV patients who were either treatment-naive or under HAART therapy including zidovudine or stavudine as nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs).

Results: As compared to healthy donors, HAART-treated HIV-infected patients exhibited decreased levels of mitochondrial enzymes associated with energy production as well as mitochondrial chaperones. Moreover, significant alterations in the mitochondria–cytoskeleton network were observed. Notably, most of these changes were already detectable in untreated HIV carriers and persisted or worsened after HAART, indicating that relevant mitochondrial alterations were initially caused by HIV infection. Finally, in vitro experiments aimed at validating the proteomic results showed that down-regulation of the mitochondrial chaperone prohibitin is a causative event in NRTI-induced mitochondrial damage.

Conclusions: Our results indicate a major role of HIV infection in the mitochondrial toxicity of HAART-treated patients and identify novel candidate markers for assessing the risk of HIV- and HAART-related pathologies.


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