Indexed on: 27 Jul '07Published on: 27 Jul '07Published in: IUBMB Life
Somatic mutations and large-scale depletion in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) have been extensively detected in various human cancers. However, it still remains unclear whether the alterations in mtDNA content are related to the clinicopathological parameters and patient prognosis in breast cancer. In the present study, we analyzed the copy number of mtDNA in 59 cases of invasive breast tumors and paired nontumorous tissues using quantitative real-time PCR. Our data showed that the level of mtDNA was significantly decreased in tumor tissues as compared to the adjacent nontumorous counterparts (P = 0.001). The reduced copy number in mtDNA was associated with an older onset age (>or=50 years old, P = 0.035) as well as a higher histological grade (P = 0.012). Survival analysis measured by the Kaplan-Meier curves and the log-rank test indicated that patients with reduced mtDNA content had significantly poorer disease-free survival (DFS, P = 0.0079) and overall survival (OS, P = 0.011) rate. In addition, tumors harboring mutations in displacement (D)-loop region, particularly at the polycytidine stretch (T/N ratio = 64.3 +/- 8.2%) or close to the replication origins of the heavy-strand (T/N ratio = 68.7 +/- 5.5%), had a significantly lower copy number of mtDNA than the ones without D-loop alterations. Together, our results suggested that reduced copy number of mtDNA may be involved in breast neoplastic transformation or progression and mtDNA content might be potentially used as a tool to predict prognosis. Somatic mutation in the D-loop region probably is one of key contributing factors leading to decreased mtDNA level in breast tumors.