Mitochondrial dysfunction may result in a variety of diseases. The objectives here were to examine possible differences in mtDNA copy number between healthy controls and patients with depression, anxiety or stress- and adjustment disorders; the association between mtDNA copy number and disease severity at baseline; and the association between mtDNA copy number and response after an 8-week treatment (mindfulness, cognitive based therapy). A total of 179 patients in primary health care (age 20-64 years) with depression, anxiety and stress- and adjustment disorders, and 320 healthy controls (aged 19-70 years) were included in the study. Relative mtDNA copy number was measured using quantitative real-time PCR on peripheral blood samples. We found that the mean mtDNA copy number was significantly higher in patients compared to controls (84.9 vs 75.9, p<0.0001) at baseline. The difference in mtDNA copy number between patients and controls remained significant after controlling for age and sex (ß=8.13, p<0.0001; linear regression analysis). The mtDNA copy number was significantly associated with Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) scores (β=0.57, p=0.02) at baseline. After treatment, the change in mtDNA copy number was significantly associated with the treatment response, i.e., change in Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS-D) and PHQ-9 scores (ß=1.00, p=0.03 and ß=0.65, p=0.04, respectively), after controlling for baseline scores, age, sex, BMI, smoking status, alcohol drinking and medication. Our findings show that mtDNA copy number is associated with symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress- and adjustment disorders and treatment response in these disorders.
Keywords: Anxiety; Depression; Stress- and adjustment disorders; mtDNA.
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