Release of Mitochondrial and Nuclear DNA During On-Pump Heart Surgery: Kinetics and Relation to Extracellular Vesicles

J Cardiovasc Transl Res. 2019 Jun;12(3):184-192. doi: 10.1007/s12265-018-9848-3. Epub 2018 Dec 12.


During heart surgery with cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB), the release of mitochondrial (mtDNA) and nuclear DNA (nDNA) and their association to extracellular vesicles were investigated. In patients undergoing elective coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG, n = 12), blood was sampled before, during, and after surgery from peripheral artery, pulmonary artery, and the coronary sinus. Plasma was separated in three fractions: microvesicles, exosomes, and supernatant. mtDNA and nDNA were measured by qPCR. mtDNA and nDNA levels increased after start of surgery, but before CPB, and increased further during CPB. mtDNA copy number was about 1000-fold higher than nDNA. mtDNA was predominantly localized to the vesicular fractions in plasma, whereas nDNA was predominantly in the supernatant. The amount of free mtDNA increased after surgery. There was no net release or disappearance of DNAs across the pulmonary, systemic, or coronary circulation. Extracellular DNAs, in particular mtDNA, may be important contributors to the whole-body inflammation during CPB.

Keywords: Cardiac surgery; Exosomes; Extracellular DNA; Microvesicles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cardiopulmonary Bypass*
  • Cell-Free Nucleic Acids / blood*
  • Cell-Free Nucleic Acids / genetics
  • Coronary Artery Bypass*
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / blood*
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Exosomes / genetics
  • Exosomes / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Kinetics


  • Cell-Free Nucleic Acids
  • DNA, Mitochondrial