Low mitochondrial DNA copy number (mtDNA CN) is thought to be a predictor of adverse ageing outcomes and the authors were interested in whether it is altered in HIV-infected patients. They measured the mtDNA CN in a cohort of people with a history of injecting drugs. Among 741 participants at baseline, HIV-infected patients (59%) with lower CD4+ T cell counts, higher HIV viral load and who were not on antiretroviral therapy had significantly lower mtDNA than uninfected people. No differences were seen between uninfected people and HIV-infected patients with suppressed viral loads. 507 participants were followed up and the authors found that mtDNA CN declines significantly faster among HIV-infected patients aged ≥50 years than HIV-uninfected participants (-0.03 unit of change/year vs. 0.006 unit of change/year), even among those with well-controlled HIV. Therefore mtDNA CN is similar between well-controlled HIV-infected and uninfected people before the age of 50 but as they age, it declines significantly faster among all HIV-infected patients.
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