Mitochondrial DNA 4,977-bp deletion in paired oral cancer and precancerous lesions revealed by laser microdissection and real-time quantitative PCR

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2004 Apr;1011:154-67. doi: 10.1007/978-3-662-41088-2_16.


Oral cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths among men in Taiwan and is closely associated with areca quid chewing habits. Recent studies showed that mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutations occur in various tumors, including oral cancers, and that the accumulation of mtDNA deletions could be an important contributor to carcinogenesis. Using laser microdissection, we have analyzed mtDNA deletions by pairwise comparisons in oral cancer, precancerous cells, and their adjacent submucosal stoma tissues in 12 patients with areca quid chewing history. Real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RTQPCR) was performed to detect and quantify mtDNA with the 4,977-bp deletion in the histologically defined specified cell groups. Quantitative analysis of 60 samples by RTQPCR revealed that the average proportions of 4,977-bp deleted mtDNA over total mtDNA were 0.137%, 0.367%, and 0.001% in cancer, precancer cells, and lymphocytes of lymph node biopsies, respectively. Pairwise analysis of the proportion of mtDNA deletion in cancer, precancer, and their stroma tissues revealed a consistent trend among these patients. All of the patients (12/12) presented a higher proportion of mtDNA with 4,977-bp deletion in the lesions than in the lymphocytes, with average increases of 198-fold in cancer and 546-fold in precancer cells. A decrease in the proportion of deleted mtDNA was observed in 8 of 12 patients when the disease progressed from precancer to cancer lesions. Interestingly, 7 of 12 cancer tissues and 8 of 12 precancer lesions exhibited an average of 6.3-fold and 17.4-fold increases in the proportion of 4,977-bp deleted mtDNA in the stromal cells than in the lesion cells, respectively. The observation that the proportion of 4,977-bp deleted mtDNA in all oral lesions was higher than normal and consistently decreased during cancer progression from precancer to primary cancer suggests that accumulation and subsequent cytoplasmic segregation of the mutant mtDNA during cell division may play an important role in oral carcinogenesis. This study also demonstrates that laser microdissection combined with RTQPCR is an efficient and sensitive tool to gain insight into the role that mtDNA mutation may play in carcinogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Areca / adverse effects
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Lasers*
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology
  • Lymph Nodes / physiology
  • Male
  • Microdissection / instrumentation
  • Microdissection / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Mouth Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Mouth Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neck
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods*
  • Precancerous Conditions / genetics*
  • Precancerous Conditions / pathology
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Sequence Deletion*
  • Stromal Cells / cytology
  • Stromal Cells / physiology
  • Taiwan


  • DNA, Mitochondrial