Involvement of Circulating Cell-Free Mitochondrial DNA and Proinflammatory Cytokines in Pathogenesis of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Lung Cancer

Document Type : Research Articles


1 L.N.Gumilyov Eurasian National University Institute of Cell Biology and Biotechnology, Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.

2 National Research Oncology Center, Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.


Objective: Circulating cell-free mitochondrial DNA (cf-MtDNA) has been reported in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancers. However, inter-relationships among the three biological events have not been well-characterized. Therefore, our investigation was conducted to better understand the role of cf-MtDNA on pathogenesis of the two diseases. Methods: Plasma samples were collected from 64 non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients (before therapy), 45 patients with COPD and 62 healthy individuals. cf-MtDNA copy numbers were detected using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) and cytokines were determined using a human ELISA kit. Results: Our data indicate that smoking statuses of the patients and controls were significantly associated with increased cf-MtDNA in plasma samples. Furthermore, NSCLC patients had significantly higher cf-MtDNA copy numbers than COPD patients (p < 0.03) and normal controls (p < 0.02), together with elevated proinflammatory cytokines over the controls (p < 0.05). Our  study shows that the copy numbers for the NSCLC patients were positively associated with their subsequent metastasis but inversely associated with their overall survival.  Conclusion: Our study indicates certain lung injury (e.g., from cigarette smoking) was responsible for the release of cf-MtDNA and proinflammatory cytokines into plasmas among our patients and controls. The increase in cf-MtDNA copy numbers was significantly associated with the development of both COPD and NSCLC, with increase in interleukin 6, and from our 5-year follow-up, with poor prognosis among the NSCLC patients. Therefore, with further validation, cf-MtDNA can be considered for use as diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers for NSCLC.


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