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Mitochondrial DNA deletions in human skin reflect photo- rather than chronologic aging

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Mark Birch-MachinORCiD, Faye Haldane, Professor Jonathan Rees


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We have examined the use of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) as a molecular market to study the relation between chronologic aging and photoageing in human skin. Using a 3-primer quantitative polymerase chain reaction method we have studied changes in the ration of the 4977 bp deleted to wild-type mtDNA in relation to sun exposure and chronologic age of human skin. Based on previous studies, samples showing greater than 1% deleted mtDNA were classed as abnormal. There was a significant increase in the incidence of high levels (i.e., >1%) of the 4977 bp deleted mtDNA in sun-exposed sites (27%, 27 of 100) compared with sun-protected sites (1.1%, one of 90) (Fisher's exact test, P < 0.0001). There appeared to be no relation between the frequency of the mtDNA deletion and age. Analysis of split skin samples showed that most deletions (93%, N = 27) were confined to the dermal rather than the epidermal component, and in keeping with this deletions were found in three of six primary cultures of fibroblast from sun-exposed sites. Deletions were not see in the epidermal component of several epidermal tumors nor were deletions seen in fibroblast culture from an individual with Werner's syndrome. We propose that deletions or mutations of mitochondrial DNA may be useful as a marker of cumulative ultraviolet radiation exposure.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Birch-Machin MA, Tindall M, Turner R, Haldane F, Rees JL

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Investigative Dermatology

Year: 1998

Volume: 110

Issue: 2

Pages: 149-152

Print publication date: 01/01/1998

ISSN (print): 0022-202X

ISSN (electronic): 1523-1747

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1046/j.1523-1747.1998.00099.x

PubMed id: 9457910


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