Genetic Variation of MT-ND Genes in Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration: Biochemical Phenotype-Genotype Correlation

Neurodegener Dis. 2015;15(2):70-80. doi: 10.1159/000380766. Epub 2015 Apr 3.


Background: Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) is the second most common early-onset dementia. Over the last few decades, a growing number of evidence suggests mitochondrial involvement in neurodegeneration, namely modifications of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) contributing to energy impairment.

Objective: To sequence the 7 mitochondrially encoded complex I (MT-ND) genes in 70 FTLD patients and investigate mitochondrial respiratory chain (MRC) complex I activity.

Methods: A sample of 70 patients was studied (39 females and 31 males; age range: 38-82 years, mean ± SD: 63 ± 11 years) with a probable diagnosis of FTLD. Total DNA was extracted from peripheral blood, and sequencing analysis of 7 MT-NDn (1, 2, 3, 4L, 4, 5, 6) genes was performed. Variants identified were submitted to in silico study. Spectrophotometric evaluation of MRC activity in lymphocytes was performed, and results were compared with age-matched controls.

Results: A total of 358 (161 different) alterations were found in 92.9% of patients. According to in silico analysis of nonsynonymous variants, only 5 variations are possibly or probably damaging. Complex I activity is significantly decreased in patients.

Conclusion: To our knowledge, this is the first report of the complete sequence of the MT-ND genes in FTLD patients and correlation with MRC activity. The high number of mtDNA variations identified and a significant decrease in complex I activity suggest a possible involvement of mtDNA alterations in FTLD. Although the majority of these alterations are not primarily pathogenic, an interaction with other mutations may occur, leading to the disease, worsening its expression or influencing age of onset.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration / genetics*
  • Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration / physiopathology*
  • Genetic Association Studies
  • Genotype*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Status Schedule
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation / genetics*
  • NADH Dehydrogenase / genetics*
  • Phenotype*
  • Statistics as Topic


  • NADH Dehydrogenase
  • MT-ND1 protein, human