Mitochondrial DNA backgrounds might modulate diabetes complications rather than T2DM as a whole

Alessandro Achilli, Anna Olivieri, Maria Pala, Baharak Hooshiar Kashani, Valeria Carossa, Ugo A. Perego, Francesca Gandini, Aurelia Santoro, Vincenza Battaglia, Viola Grugni, Hovirag Lancioni, Cristina Sirolla, Anna Rita Bonfigli, Antonella Cormio, Massimo Boemi, Ivano Testa, Ornella Semino, Antonio Ceriello, Liana Spazzafumo, Maria Nicola GadaletaMaurizio Marra, Roberto Testa, Claudio Franceschi, Antonio Torroni

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65 Citations (Scopus)


Mitochondrial dysfunction has been implicated in rare and common forms of type 2 diabetes (T2DM). Additionally, rare mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutations have been shown to be causal for T2DM pathogenesis. So far, many studies have investigated the possibility that mtDNA variation might affect the risk of T2DM, however, when found, haplogroup association has been rarely replicated, even in related populations, possibly due to an inadequate level of haplogroup resolution. Effects of mtDNA variation on diabetes complications have also been proposed. However, additional studies evaluating the mitochondrial role on both T2DM and related complications are badly needed. To test the hypothesis of a mitochondrial genome effect on diabetes and its complications, we genotyped the mtDNAs of 466 T2DM patients and 438 controls from a regional population of central Italy (Marche). Based on the most updated mtDNA phylogeny, all 904 samples were classified into 57 different mitochondrial sub-haplogroups, thus reaching an unprecedented level of resolution. We then evaluated whether the susceptibility of developing T2DM or its complications differed among the identified haplogroups, considering also the potential effects of phenotypical and clinical variables. MtDNA backgrounds, even when based on a refined haplogroup classification, do not appear to play a role in developing T2DM despite a possible protective effect for the common European haplogroup H1, which harbors the G3010A transition in the MTRNR2 gene. In contrast, our data indicate that different mitochondrial haplogroups are significantly associated with an increased risk of specific diabetes complications: H (the most frequent European haplogroup) with retinopathy, H3 with neuropathy, U3 with nephropathy, and V with renal failure.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere21029
JournalPLoS One
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2011
Externally publishedYes


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