Together with Misa Hirose from the Ibrahim lab in Lübeck we investigated the role of mtDNA polymorphisms as a modifier of healthspan in mice. The study has been published in IJMS as part of the Special Issue mtDNA and Mitochondrial Stress Signaling in Human Diseases.
In this study, we provide experimental evidence that a maternally inherited polymorphism in the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene (mt-Cytb; m.15124A>G, Ile-Val) in mitochondrial complex III resulted in middle-aged obesity and higher susceptibility to diet-induced obesity, as well as age-related inflammatory disease, e.g., ulcerative dermatitis, in mice. As a consequence of the gene variation, we observed alterations in body composition, metabolism and mitochondrial functions, i.e., increased mitochondrial oxygen consumption rate and higher levels of reactive oxygen species, as well as in the commensal bacterial composition in the gut, with higher abundance of Proteobacteria in mice carrying the variant. These observations are in line with the previously described links of the mitochondrial complex III gene with obesity and metabolic diseases in humans. Given that these functional changes by the G variant at m.15124 in the mt-Cytb are already present in young mice that were kept under normal condition, it is plausible that the m.15124A>G variant is a disease susceptibility modifier to the diseases induced by additional stressors, i.e., dietary and/or aging stress, and that the variant results in the higher incidence of clinical diseases presentation in C57BL/6J-mt129S1/SvlmJ than C57BL/6J mice. Thus, mtDNA variants could be potential biomarkers to evaluate the healthspan.
The whole study can be found here.