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Elevated serum fibroblast growth factor 21 levels correlate with immune recovery but not mitochondrial dysfunction in HIV infection

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Brendan PayneORCiD, Dr David Price, Professor Patrick Chinnery



Background: Anti-retroviral treated HIV-infected patients are at risk of mitochondrial toxicity, but non-invasive markers are lacking. Serum FGF-21 (fibroblast growth factor 21) levels correlate strongly with muscle biopsy findings in inherited mitochondrial disorders. We therefore aimed to determine whether serum FGF-21 levels correlate with muscle mitochondrial dysfunction in HIV-infected patients.Findings: We performed a cross-sectional study of anti-retroviral treated HIV-infected subjects (aged 29 - 71 years, n = 32). Serum FGF-21 levels were determined by quantitative ELISA. Cellular mitochondrial dysfunction was assessed by COX (cytochrome c oxidase) histochemistry of lower limb skeletal muscle biopsy. Serum FGF-21 levels were elevated in 66% of subjects. Levels correlated significantly with current CD4 lymphocyte count (p = 0.042) and with total CD4 count gain since initiation of anti-retroviral therapy (p = 0.016), but not with the nature or duration of past or current anti-retroviral treatment. There was no correlation between serum FGF-21 levels and severity of the muscle mitochondrial (COX) defect.Conclusions: Serum FGF-21 levels are a poor predictor of muscle mitochondrial dysfunction in contemporary anti-retroviral treated patients. Serum FGF-21 levels are nevertheless commonly elevated, in association with the degree of immune recovery, suggesting a non-mitochondrial metabolic disturbance with potential implications for future comorbidity.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Payne BAI, Price DA, Chinnery PF

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: AIDS Research and Therapy

Year: 2013

Volume: 10

Online publication date: 19/11/2013

Acceptance date: 14/11/2013

Date deposited: 02/12/2014

ISSN (electronic): 1742-6405

Publisher: BioMed Central Ltd


DOI: 10.1186/1742-6405-10-27


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Funder referenceFunder name
Medical Research Council (UK)
Medical Research Council (UK) Centre for Translational Muscle Disease
Newcastle National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre in Ageing
084980/Z/08/ZWellcome Trust
096919Z/11/ZWellcome Trust