Hypoxemia is associated with mitochondrial DNA damage and gene induction. Implications for cardiac disease

JAMA. 1991 Oct 2;266(13):1812-6.


Objective: --Oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) deficiency due to hypoxemia or other causes was hypothesized to increase oxygen radical generation, damage mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), and reduce adenosine triphosphate synthesis, resulting in compensatory OXPHOS gene induction. Therefore, we investigated the levels of mtDNA damage and OXPHOS transcripts in normal and ischemic hearts, and then in other forms of heart disease.

Design: --DNA was extracted from the heart and the levels of the common 4977 base pair mtDNA deletion were quantitated as an index for mtDNA damage. Total RNA was extracted from hearts and analyzed for OXPHOS transcript levels.

Results: --In control hearts, the 4977 base pair mtDNA deletion appeared at age 40 years and reached a maximum deletion of 0.0035%. Much higher levels were found in ischemic hearts (0.02% to 0.85%), as well as in three of 10 cases with other types of heart disease (0.017% to 0.16%). The OXPHOS transcripts were increased in all diseased hearts.

Conclusion: --Ischemic hearts have increased mtDNA damage and OXPHOS gene expression, suggesting that mtDNA damage is associated with OXPHOS deficiency. Oxidative phosphorylation defects may also play a role in some other forms of cardiac disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / biosynthesis
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Chromosome Deletion
  • Coronary Artery Disease / genetics*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / pathology
  • DNA Damage*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Heart Diseases / genetics
  • Heart Diseases / pathology
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / complications*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mitochondria, Heart*
  • Oxidative Phosphorylation
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Transcriptional Activation


  • Adenosine Triphosphate