Mitochondrial DNA copy number and diabetes: the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study

BMJ Open Diabetes Res Care. 2020 Aug;8(1):e001204. doi: 10.1136/bmjdrc-2020-001204.


Introduction: Mitochondrial DNA copy number (mtDNA-CN) is a measure of mitochondrial dysfunction and is associated with diabetes in experimental models. To explore the temporality of mitochondrial dysfunction and diabetes, we estimated the prevalent and incident association of mtDNA-CN and diabetes.

Research design and methods: We assessed the associations of mtDNA-CN measured from buffy coat with prevalent and incident diabetes, stratified by race, in 8954 white and 2444 black participants in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study, an observational cohort study. Follow-up for incident analyses was complete through visit 6, 2016.

Results: Mean age at mtDNA-CN measurement was 57 years and 59% were female. Prevalence of diabetes at time of mtDNA-CN measurement was higher in blacks (563/2444, 23%) than whites (855/8954, 10%). The fully adjusted odds of prevalent diabetes for the 10th vs 90th percentile of mtDNA-CN was 1.05 (95% CI 0.74 to 1.49) among black and 1.49 (95% CI 1.20 to 1.85) among white participants. Over a median follow-up time of 19 years (Q1, Q3: 11, 24 years), we observed 617 incident diabetes cases among 1744 black and 2121 cases among 7713 white participants free of diabetes at baseline. The fully adjusted hazard of incident diabetes for the 10th vs 90th percentile of mtDNA-CN was 1.07 (95% CI 0.84 to 1.38) among black and 0.97 (95% CI 0.86 to 1.10) among white participants.

Conclusions: Lower mtDNA-CN in buffy coat was associated with prevalent diabetes in white but not black ARIC participants. Lower mtDNA-CN was not associated with incident diabetes over 20 years of follow-up in whites or blacks.

Trial registration: NCT00005131.

Keywords: adult diabetes; cohort; epidemiology; mitochondrial DNA.

Publication types

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

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