Characterization of the mitochondrial DNA in patients with multiple sclerosis

Bernadette Kalman, Fred D. Lublin, Hansjuerg Alder

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43 Citations (Scopus)


Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) abnormalities with primary pathogenic significance for optic nerve atrophy have been detected in inflammatory demyelinating conditions indistinguishable from multiple sclerosis (MS). However, the degree of involvement of mtDNA alterations in the pathogenesis of MS is not clear. To further clarify this question, we sequenced the entire mtDNA in three MS patients. A number of nucleotide alterations were defined relative to the standard mtDNA sequence in each patient. After excluding the silent mutations and common polymorphisms, eight unusual mtDNA variants within the ribosomal (r) RNA, transfer (t) RNA or protein encoding regions were identified and characterized. Two mutations remained as putative MS related alterations after screening a population of 49 patients and 63 controls for the presence of these mutations. An A to G transition at nucleotide (nt) 13,966 causing a threonine to phenylalanine exchange in a non-conserved region of the ND-5 was detected in two independent MS patients and in none of the sixty-three controls or in any of the large control population in the literature. The second mutation of interest at 14,798 is a T to C transition changing a phenylalanine to leucine in a relatively conserved domain of the cytochrome b. Although it is a known polymorphism, a tendency for prominent optic nerve involvement was observed among patients carrying this mutation. As we have performed the first complete mtDNA sequence analysis on MS patients, we conclude that MS may occur without mtDNA abnormalities of primary pathogenic significance. However, contribution of the mtDNA to genetic susceptibility or phenotypic presentation of MS is possible in certain subgroups of patients, and merits further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-84
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the Neurological Sciences
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 1996


  • Genetic susceptibility
  • MtDNA variant
  • Multiple sclerosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

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