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Post-mortem ventricular cerebrospinal fluid cell-free-mtDNA in neurodegenerative disease

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Hannah Lowes, Dr Marzena Kurzawa-Akanbi, Dr Angela Pyle, Professor Gavin Hudson



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


© 2020, The Author(s).Cell-free mitochondrial DNA (cfmtDNA) is detectable in almost all human body fluids and has been associated with the onset and progression of several complex traits. In-life assessments indicate that reduced cfmtDNA is a feature of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis. However, whether this feature is conserved across all neurodegenerative diseases and how it relates to the neurodegenerative processes remains unclear. In this study, we assessed the levels of ventricular cerebrospinal fluid-cfmtDNA (vCSF-cfmtDNA) in a diverse group of neurodegenerative diseases (NDDs) to determine if the in-life observations of reduced cfmtDNA seen in lumbar CSF translated to the post-mortem ventricular CSF. To investigate further, we compared vCSF-cfmtDNA levels to known protein markers of neurodegeneration, synaptic vesicles and mitochondrial integrity. Our data indicate that reduced vCSF-cfmtDNA is a feature specific to Parkinson’s and appears consistent throughout the disease course. Interestingly, we observed increased vCSF-cfmtDNA in the more neuropathologically severe NDD cases, but no association to protein markers of neurodegeneration, suggesting that vCSF-cfmtDNA release is more complex than mere cellular debris produced following neuronal death. We conclude that vCSF-cfmtDNA is reduced in PD, but not other NDDs, and appears to correlate to pathology. Although its utility as a prognostic biomarker is limited, our data indicate that higher levels of vCSF-cfmtDNA is associated with more severe clinical presentations; suggesting that it is associated with the neurodegenerative process. However, as vCSF-cfmtDNA does not appear to correlate to established indicators of neurodegeneration or indeed indicators of mitochondrial mass, further work to elucidate its exact role is needed.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Lowes H, Kurzawa-Akanbi M, Pyle A, Hudson G

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Scientific Reports

Year: 2020

Volume: 10

Print publication date: 01/12/2020

Online publication date: 17/09/2020

Acceptance date: 11/08/2020

Date deposited: 07/01/2021

ISSN (electronic): 2045-2322

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-72190-5

PubMed id: 32943697


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