Biocomplexity and fractality in the search of biomarkers of aging and pathology: Mitochondrial DNA profiling of parkinson’s disease

Annamaria Zaia, Pierluigi Maponi, Martina Zannotti, Tiziana Casoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Increasing evidence implicates mitochondrial dysfunction in the etiology of Parkinson’s disease (PD). Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutations are considered a possible cause and this mechanism might be shared with the aging process and with other age-related neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD). We have recently proposed a computerized method for mutated mtDNA characterization able to discriminate between AD and aging. The present study deals with mtDNA mutation-based profiling of PD. Peripheral blood mtDNA sequences from late-onset PD patients and age-matched controls were analyzed and compared to the revised Cambridge Reference Sequence (rCRS). The chaos game representation (CGR) method, modified to visualize heteroplasmic mutations, was used to display fractal properties of mtDNA sequences and fractal lacunarity analysis was applied to quantitatively characterize PD based on mtDNA mutations. Parameter β, from the hyperbola model function of our lacunarity method, was statistically different between PD and control groups when comparing mtDNA sequence frames corresponding to GenBank np 5713-9713. Our original method, based on CGR and lacunarity analysis, represents a useful tool to analyze mtDNA mutations. Lacunarity parameter β is able to characterize individual mutation profile of mitochondrial genome and could represent a promising index to discriminate between PD and aging.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1758
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2020


  • Aging
  • Biocomplexity
  • Chaos game representation
  • Fractal lacunarity
  • MtDNA
  • Parkinson’s disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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