July 13, 2011
A class of AIDS drugs has been linked with mitochondrial DNA mutations, which could help explain the premature aging and age-related illnesses seen in some HIV patients, British researchers say in a new study. The implicated class, nucleoside analog reverse-transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs), represented a great advance in treatment in the late 1980s.
In the study, researchers analyzed muscle cells from HIV-positive adults, including some previously treated with NRTIs. Patients who had taken NRTIs, even those who took them as long as 10 years ago, had damaged mitochondrial DNA much like that of a healthy older person.
"It takes time for these side effects to become apparent, so there is a question mark about the future and whether or not the newer drugs will cause this problem," said study leader Patrick Chinnery of the Institute of Genetic Medicine at Newcastle University. "They are probably less likely to, but we don't know because we haven't had time to see."
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