Oxidative DNA damage in polymorphonuclear leukocytes of patients with familial Mediterranean fever

Free Radic Biol Med. 2008 Feb 1;44(3):386-93. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2007.09.020. Epub 2007 Oct 10.


Familial Mediterranean fever (FMF) is an autosomal recessively inherited disorder characterized by recurrent, inflammatory self-limited episodes of fever and other symptoms. This disease is caused by more than 25 mutations in the gene MEFV. During fever attacks, there is a substantial influx of polymorphonuclear leukocytes into the affected tissues. Attack-free periods are accompanied by the up-regulation of neutrophil and monocyte phagocytic activity and oxidative burst. These facts led us to hypothesize that oxidative damage by free radicals to DNA may accumulate in FMF patients. To test this hypothesis, we investigated oxidative DNA damage in polymorphonuclear leukocytes of FMF patients during the attack-free period in comparison with FMF-free control individuals. DNA was isolated from polymorphonuclear leukocytes of 17 FMF patients and 10 control individuals. DNA samples were analyzed by liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry to measure the levels of various typical oxidatively induced products of DNA. We show, for the first time, that FMF patients accumulate statistically significant levels of these lesions in their DNA when compared to FMF-free control individuals. This work suggests that the persistent oxidative stress with excess production of free radicals in FMF patients may lead to accumulation of oxidative DNA damage. Defective DNA repair may also contribute to this phenomenon, perhaps due to mutations in the MEFV gene. The accumulation of mutagenic and cytotoxic DNA lesions may contribute to increased mutations and apoptosis in FMF patients, thus to worsening of the disease and well-being of the patients. Future research should deal with prevention of oxidative DNA damage and apoptosis in FMF patients, and also the elucidation of a possible role of DNA repair in this disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • DNA / analysis
  • DNA Damage*
  • Familial Mediterranean Fever / etiology*
  • Familial Mediterranean Fever / genetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neutrophils / chemistry
  • Oxidative Stress*


  • DNA