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Plasma circulating cell-free mitochondrial DNA in the assessment of Friedreich’s ataxia

Journal title
Journal of the neurological sciences
Publication year
2016
Author(s)
Dantham, S.; Srivastava, A. K.; Gulati, S.; Rajeswari, M. R.
Pages
82-8
Volume
365

Friedreich’s ataxia (FRDA) is one of the most devastating childhood onset neurodegenerative disease affecting multiple organs in the course of progression. FRDA is associated with mitochondrial dysfunction due to deficit in a nuclear encoded mitochondrial protein, frataxin. Identification of disease-specific biomarker for monitoring the severity remains to be a challenging topic. This study was aimed to identify whether circulating cell-free nuclear DNA (nDNA) and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) in blood plasma can be a potential biomarker for FRDA. Clinical information was assessed using International Cooperative Ataxia Rating Scale and the disease was confirmed using Long-range PCR for GAA repeat expansion within the gene encoding frataxin. The frataxin expression was measured using Western blot. Plasma nDNA and mtDNA levels were quantified by Multiplex real-time PCR. The major observation is that the levels of nDNA found to be increased, whereas mtDNA levels were reduced significantly in the plasma of FRDA patients (n=21) as compared to healthy controls (n=21). Further, plasma mtDNA levels showed high sensitivity (90%) and specificity (76%) in distinguishing from healthy controls with optimal cutoff indicated at 4.1×10(5)GE/mL. Interestingly, a small group of follow-up patients (n=9) on intervention with, a nutrient supplement, omega-3 fatty acid (a known enhancer of mitochondrial metabolism) displayed a significant improvement in the levels of plasma mtDNA, supporting our hypothesis that plasma mtDNA can be a potential monitoring or prognosis biomarker for FRDA.

Research abstracts