Objectives: The aim of this study was to assess the occurrence of the two most commonly encountered mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) deletions in the hearts of patients with idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy.
Background: The mutation frequency of mtDNA is high, and sporadic cases of cardiomyopathies associated with mtDNA deletions have been described. Reports of increases in mtDNA deletions with advancing age also exist.
Methods: We studied 15 consecutive patients with typical signs of idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy, without a family history, together with 16 control hearts obtained at autopsy from patients who died of noncardiac causes. The patients underwent both right and left heart catheterization, during which endomyocardial biopsy samples were taken. The mtDNA in these samples and in the control hearts was analyzed by the polymerase chain reaction technique for the occurrence and proportion of 5- and 7.4-kilobase (kb) deletions (Cambridge sequence map positions from nucleotides 8469 to 13447 and 8637 to 16084, respectively).
Results: The 5-kb mtDNA deletion was observed in the hearts of all of the patients with idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy, accounting for 0.32 +/- 0.05% (mean +/- SEM) of the total mtDNA. The 7.4-kb deletion was found in 7 of the 15 patients with idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy and comprised 0.28 +/- 0.08% of the total. The 5- and 7.4-kb deletions were detected in 12 and 9 control hearts, respectively, quantitatively similar to the patients with idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy. A sigmoidal age dependency of the mtDNA deletions was found both in the patients with cardiomyopathy and in the control hearts, but after elimination of the confounding age variable, there was no difference between these groups.
Conclusions: Because of the similarity of the age-dependent increase in the frequency of mtDNA deletions in cardiomyopathic and control hearts, the deletions have no causal relation with idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy. The present results confirm the notion of an increase in mtDNA deletions with advancing age and show that endomyocardial tissue sampling is a feasible method for detecting mtDNA defects in affected hearts.