Author(s): Bollmann FM
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Abstract HIV-infected individuals undergoing long-term anti-retroviral treatment tend to show premature senescence. Accelerated mitochondrial aging induced by nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) has been implicated as a part of this phenomenon. Traditionally, this has been attributed to inhibition of mtDNA polymerase γ by these drugs, but alternative explanations have been proposed. It is known that NRTIs can not only inhibit viral reverse transcriptase, but also human telomerase. A number of extratelomeric roles of telomerase, including protection of mitochondrial DNA and function, have emerged recently. In this paper, I propose that inhibition of mitochondrial telomerase activity by NRTI drugs contributes to the mitochondrial toxicity and premature aging seen in treated HIV patients, and discuss objections and experimental testing of the hypothesis. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
This article was published in Med Hypotheses
and referenced in Epidemiology: Open Access