Background and Aims: Leukoaraiosis (LA), one of the most frequent causes of an age-associated cognitive decline, can be associated with a poor quality of life, leading overall to far-reaching public health problems. Chronic hypoxia of the white matter of the brain may be a factor triggering this entity. LA may develop as a consequence of chronically insufficient cellular energy production and the accumulation of free radicals. Methods: In this context, after hypothesizing that the number of healthy mitochondria can be crucial in this complex process, a case-control LA study was carried out in which we analyzed the numbers of deleted and non-deleted mitochondria (the common D-loop deletion) per white blood cell. A total of 234 patients with LA and 123 MRI alteration-free subjects served as a control group. Results: Interestingly, it emerged that the ratio of deleted relative to non-deleted mitochondria is strongly associated with the risk of LA. The calculated K ratio in the LA group was significantly lower than the K ratio in the controls (LA: K 0.37 95% CI 0.05; controls: K 0.48, 95% CI 0.076, p <0.001). Conclusions: Our study suggests that the ratio of the dmDNA and mDNA can be of great importance in the pathogenesis of LA.
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