Study of mitochondrial DNA alteration in the exhaled breath condensate of patients affected by obstructive lung diseases

G. E. Carpagnano, D. Lacedonia, Mauro Carone, P. Soccio, G. Cotugno, G. A. Palmiotti, G. Scioscia, M. P. Foschino Barbaro

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Mitochondrial DNA (MtDNA) has been studied as an expression of oxidative stress in asthma, COPD, lung cancer and obstructive sleep apnea, but it has been mainly investigated systemically, although the pathogenetic mechanisms begin in the airways and only later progress to systemic circulation. The aim of this study was to investigate the MtDNA alterations in the exhaled breath condensate (EBC) of patients with asthma, COPD and asthma-COPD overlap syndrome (ACOS). In order to analyze better what happens to mitochondria, both locally and systemically, we compared MtDNA/nDNA in blood and EBC of paired patients. Thirteen (13) COPD patients, 14 asthmatics, 23 ACOS (10 according to Spanish guidelines, 13 in line with GINA guidelines) and 12 healthy subjects were enrolled. Patients underwent clinical and functional diagnostic tests as foreseen by the guidelines. They underwent blood and EBC collection. Content of MtDNA and nuclear DNA (nDNA) was measured in the blood cells and EBC of patients by Real Time PCR. The ratio between MtDNA/nDNA was calculated. For the first time we were able to detect MtDNA/nDNA in the EBC. We found higher exhaled MtDNA/nDNA in COPD, asthmatic and ACOS patients respectively compared to healthy subjects (21.9-4.9 versus 6.51 0.21, p <0.05; 7.9 2.5 versus 6.51 0.21, p = 0.06; 18.3 3.4 versus 6.51 0.21, p <0.05). The level of exhaled MtDNA/nDNA was positively correlated with the plasmatic one. The levels of MtDNA/nDNA in the EBC, as expression of oxidative stress, are increased in COPD, asthmatic and ACOS patients compared to healthy subjects. These are preliminary results in a small number of well characterized patients that requires confirmation on a larger population. We support new studies directed toward the analysis of exhaled MtDNA/nDNA as a new exhaled non-invasive marker in other inflammatory/oxidative airways diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number026005
JournalJournal of Breath Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 11 2016


  • ACOS
  • asthma
  • COPD
  • EBC
  • mitochondrial DNA
  • oxidative stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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