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BioMed Research International
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 157547, 10 pages
Research Article

Simultaneous Quantification of Mitochondrial DNA Damage and Copy Number in Circulating Blood: A Sensitive Approach to Systemic Oxidative Stress

Department of Surgery/Division of Urology, The Research Institute of McGill University Health Center, 1650 Cedar Avenue, Room R1.107, Montreal, QC, Canada H3G 1A4

Received 2 September 2012; Revised 12 November 2012; Accepted 13 November 2012

Academic Editor: Gurmit Singh

Copyright © 2013 Sam W. Chan et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Systemic oxidative stress is associated with a wide range of pathological conditions. Oxidative DNA damage is frequently measured in circulating lymphocytes. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is known to be more sensitive to oxidative damage than nuclear DNA but is rarely used for direct measurement of DNA damage in clinical studies. Based on the supercoiling-sensitive real-time PCR method, we propose a new approach for the noninvasive monitoring of systemic oxidative stress by quantifying the mtDNA structural damage and copy number change in isolated lymphocytes in a single test. We show that lymphocytes have significantly less mtDNA content and relatively lower baseline levels of damage than cancer cell lines. In an ex vivo challenge experiment, we demonstrate, for the first time, that exogenous H2O2 induces a significant increase in mtDNA damage in lymphocytes from healthy individuals, but no repair activity is observed after 1 h recovery. We further demonstrate that whole blood may serve as a convenient alternative to the isolated lymphocytes in mtDNA analysis. Thus, the blood analysis with the multiple mtDNA end-points proposed in the current study may provide a simple and sensitive test to interrogate the nature and extent of systemic oxidative stress for a broad spectrum of clinical investigations.