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Liver mtDNA content increases during development: A comparison of the methods and the importance of age and tissue specific controls for the diagnosis of mtDNA depletion

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Jeremy Parr


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BackgroundThe quantitative loss of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) known as mtDNA depletion, often gives rise to liver disease. The diagnosis of mtDNA depletion syndrome is frequently imprecise, both for technical reasons and because of the lack of established age-adjusted normal ranges. We aimed to refine quantitative methods for diagnosing the hepatic type of mtDNA depletion syndrome, firstly by establishing an age-matched reference range for mitochondrial to nuclear DNA ratio (henceforth “mtDNA content”) and secondly by investigating mtDNA in fibroblasts. MethodsBy comparing realtime PCR with an established method for quantifying mtDNA content we established a reference range for young children using biopsy and post-mortem material from patients <15 years. In addition, we investigated the arrangement of mtDNA in nucleoids from fibroblasts using fluorescence microscopy. ResultsBoth methods showed that the mtDNA content of liver increases rapidly over the perinatal period. In a patient whose liver mtDNA content fell, but remained within the reference range, early investigation and age-matched controls were essential, as we found a progressive increase in muscle mtDNA copy number, respiratory chain activity and muscle power with age. In three further patients, fluorescence microscopy of the fibroblasts proved diagnostic. In one case a movement disorder was an important pointer. ConclusionsThese cases highlight the (i) need for comparing mtDNA copy number data generated from patients to DNA isolated from an age-matched normal range from the tissue of interest and (ii) the utility of mtDNA staining with PicoGreen as a method to detect aberrant nucleoid morphology in mtDNA depletion patient fibroblast lines when affected tissues are not available for measuring mtDNA copy number.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Morten K, Ashley N, Wijburg F, Hadzic N, Parr JR, Jayawant S, Adams S, Bindoff L, Bakker H, Mieli-Vergani G, Poulton J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Mitochondrion

Year: 2007

Volume: 7

Issue: 6

Pages: 386-395

ISSN (print): 1567-7249

ISSN (electronic): 1872-8278

Publisher: Elsevier BV


DOI: 10.1016/j.mito.2007.09.001


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