HIV infection and frequency of micronucleus in human peripheral blood cells


HIV infection
DNA damage
Genetic instability
Cancer risk


Purpose: People living with HIV have higher rates of malignancies than the general population in the era of active antiretroviral therapy (ART). Genotoxic effects of HIV infection and/or ART that can induce neoplastic development are not yet well known. A prospective cohort study to investigate DNA damage measured through the micronuclei (MN) frequency in HIV-patients has been performed.

Methods: Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were isolated from 52 HIV-patients treated with ART and 55 healthy controls.

Results: By the comparison of MN frequency, a significant difference between HIV-patients (15.5±9.8) and controls (6.0±3.6) (p<0.0001) has been revealed. In univariate linear regression analysis, HCV infection (r=0.31; p<0.001), HIV-RNA (r=0.29; p<0.03) and duration of infection (r=-0.16; p<0.25) were associated with MN frequency; while only viral load (VL) significantly correlates (r=0.29; p<0.05) in a multiple regression model.

Conclusion: The association of VL with MN frequency supports a genotoxic effect of HIV infection.