Marked increase in the number and variety of mitochondrial DNA rearrangements in aging human skeletal muscle

Nucleic Acids Res. 1995 Oct 25;23(20):4122-6. doi: 10.1093/nar/23.20.4122.


Several reports have shown that individual mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) deletions accumulate with age. However, the overall extent of somatic mtDNA damage with age remains unclear. We have utilized full-length PCR to concurrently screen for multiple mtDNA rearrangements in total DNA extracted from skeletal muscle derived from physiologically normal individuals (n = 35). This revealed that both the number and variety of mtDNA rearrangements increases dramatically between young and old individuals (P < 0.0001). We further examined the mtDNA from both the younger and older subjects by Southern blot analysis and observed an age-related increase in mtDNA(s) comparable in size to mtDNA products unique to patients with known mtDNA deletions. These data imply that a wide spectrum of mtDNA rearrangements accumulate in old individuals, which correlates with the marked age related decrease in OXPHOS capacity observed in post-mitotic tissues.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / genetics*
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / chemistry
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics*
  • Gene Rearrangement / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Weight
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Sequence Deletion


  • DNA, Mitochondrial