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Mitochondrial DNA and traumatic brain injury

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Gavin Hudson, Professor Patrick Chinnery



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Objective Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a multifactorial pathology with great interindividual variability in response to injury and outcome. Mitochondria contain their own DNA (mtDNA) with genomic variants that have different physiological and pathological characteristics, including susceptibility to neurodegeneration. Given the central role of mitochondria in the pathophysiology of neurological injury, we hypothesized that its genomic variants may account for the variability in outcome following TBI. Methods We undertook an analysis of mitochondrial haplogroups in a large, well-characterized cohort of 1,094 TBI patients. A proportional odds model including age, brain computed tomography characteristics, injury severity, pupillary reactivity, mitochondrial haplogroups, and APOE was applied to Glasgow Outcome Score (GOS) data. Results mtDNA had a significant association with 6-month GOS (p = 0.008). Haplogroup K was significantly associated with favorable outcome (odds ratio = 1.64, 95% confidence interval = 1.08-2.51, p = 0.02). There was also a significant interaction between mitochondrial genome and age (p = 0.002), with a strong protective effect of both haplogroups T (p = 0.015) and K (p = 0.017) with advancing age. We also found a strong interaction between APOE and mitochondrial haplogroups (p = 0.001), indicating a protective effect of haplogroup K in carriers of the APOE epsilon 4 allele. Interpretation These findings reveal an interplay between mitochondrial DNA, pathophysiology of TBI, and aging. Haplogroups K and T, which share a common maternal ancestor, are shown as protective in TBI. The data also suggest that the APOE pathways interact with genetically regulated mitochondrial functions in the response to acute injury, as previously reported in Alzheimer disease. Ann Neurol 2014;75:186-195

Publication metadata

Author(s): Bulstrode H, Nicoll JAR, Hudson G, Chinnery PF, Di Pietro V, Belli A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Annals of Neurology

Year: 2014

Volume: 75

Issue: 2

Pages: 186-195

Print publication date: 19/03/2014

Online publication date: 01/03/2014

Acceptance date: 04/02/2014

Date deposited: 06/08/2015

ISSN (print): 0364-5134

ISSN (electronic): 1531-8249

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


DOI: 10.1002/ana.24116


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Funder referenceFunder name
National Institute for Health Research
G9601296NMedical Research Council