BACKGROUND - Mitochondria play an important role in cellular energy metabolism, free radical production, and apoptosis, and thus may be involved in cancer development.
METHODS - We evaluated mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) copy number in peripheral leukocytes in relation to colorectal cancer risk in a case-control study of 444 colorectal cancer cases and 1,423 controls nested in the Shanghai Women's Health Study, a population-based, prospective cohort study. Relative mtDNA copy number was determined by a quantitative real-time PCR assay using peripheral leukocyte DNA samples collected at the time of study enrollment, before cancer diagnosis.
RESULTS - We found that baseline mtDNA copy number was lower among women who subsequently developed colorectal cancer [geometric mean, 0.277; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.269-0.285] than among women who remained cancer-free (geometric mean, 0.288; 95% CI, 0.284-0.293; P = 0.0153). Multivariate adjusted ORs were 1.26 (95% CI, 0.93-1.70) and 1.44 (95% CI, 1.06-1.94) for the middle and lower tertiles of mtDNA copy number, respectively, compared with the upper tertile (highest mtDNA copy number; Ptrend = 0.0204). The association varied little by the interval between blood collection and cancer diagnosis.
CONCLUSIONS - Our data suggest that mtDNA copy number measured in peripheral leukocytes may be a potential biomarker useful for colorectal cancer risk assessment.
IMPACT - If confirmed, mtDNA copy number measured in peripheral leukocytes may be a biomarker useful for colorectal cancer risk assessment.
©2014 American Association for Cancer Research.