September 14, 2000
Two presentations tried to look at the mitochondrial DNA content of adipose tissue. The first one from U.A. Walker from the J.W. Goethe University of Germany looked at subcutaneous fat biopsies of 31 individuals. Eight of the individuals were HIV negative, four had never been exposed to nucleoside analogs and 19 were in regimens that included a protease inhibitor. The amount of mitochondrial DNA was measured using a Southern blot, and Walker was able to detect a reduction of approximately 50% in the total amount of mitochondrial DNA in the patients treated with regimens that included a protease inhibitors.
Cecilia Shikuma presented similar data in a better-characterized cohort that underwent multiple fat biopsies. Also, using a semi-quantitave assay, she detected a reduction in the amount of mitochondrial DNA in fat tissue. The studies are important because they showed consistent results that tend to support the mitochondrial hypothesis, although they are still limited because of the methodological limitations of the assays used and the small sample size of the groups.