Mitochondrial DNA Sequence Variation Associated With Peripheral Nerve Function in the Elderly

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2015 Nov;70(11):1400-8. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glu175. Epub 2014 Nov 13.


Background: Mitochondrial dysfunction is a prominent hallmark of many sensory neuropathies. The purpose of this study was to assess the influence of mitochondrial DNA sequence variation on peripheral nerve function in the population-based Health, Aging, and Body Composition Study.

Methods: We investigated the role of common mitochondrial DNA variation (n = 1,580) and complete mitochondrial DNA sequences (n = 138) on peroneal motor nerve conduction velocity and amplitude, average vibration detection threshold, and monofilament sensitivity.

Results: Nominal associations among common mitochondrial DNA variants and haplogroups were identified but were not statistically significant after adjustment for multiple comparisons. Sequence-based approaches were used to identify aggregate variant associations across the 16S rRNA (weighted-sum, p = 2E-05 and variable threshold, p = 9E-06) for nerve conduction velocity. Several of these rare 16S variants occurred at or near sites with earlier disease associations and are also in close proximity to the peptidyl transferase center, which is the catalytic center of the 16S rRNA CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that sequence variation related to mitochondrial protein synthesis/assembly is associated with peripheral nerve function and may provide insight into targets for intervention or new clinical strategies to preserve nerve function in late life.

Keywords: Epidemiology; Functional Performance.; Genetics; Sensory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Body Composition
  • Cohort Studies
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mutation / genetics*
  • Neural Conduction / physiology*
  • Peroneal Nerve / physiology*
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics*
  • Reaction Time / physiology


  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S