Research Papers:

Associations of blood mitochondrial DNA copy number with social-demographics and cancer risk: results from the Mano-A-Mano Mexican American Cohort

Hua Zhao _, David Chang, Yuanqing Ye, Jie Shen, Wong-Ho Chow and Xifeng Wu

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Oncotarget. 2018; 9:25491-25502. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.25321

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Hua Zhao1, David Chang1, Yuanqing Ye1, Jie Shen1, Wong-Ho Chow1 and Xifeng Wu1

1Department of Epidemiology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, 77030 TX, USA

Correspondence to:

Hua Zhao, email: [email protected]

Keywords: mitochondrial DNA copy number; cancer risk; lifestyle factors; social context

Received: March 22, 2018     Accepted: April 16, 2018     Published: May 22, 2018


The relationship between blood mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) copy number and subsequent cancer risk has been investigated previously. However, such association has never been examined in Mexican Americans. In the current study, we examined association between social-demographic factors and blood mtDNA copy number, as well as longitudinal relationship between cancer and mtDNA copy number, among 10,802 Mexican Americans in the Mano-A-Mano Mexican American Cohort. Overall, mtDNA copy number was statistically significantly higher among participants who developed cancer during the study period than among cancer-free controls (0.17 vs 0.13, P = 0.007). Among cancer-free control participants, mtDNA copy number significantly differed by social-demographic characteristics. However, there was a large degree of heterogeneity in these effects across the mtDNA copy number distribution. In the longitudinal analysis, we observed that higher mtDNA copy number was positively associated with increased risk of all cancer types (adjusted hazard ratio [HR], 1.13; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.09–1.17). Participants with mtDNA copy number in the fourth (highest) quartile had a higher risk of all cancer (adjusted HR, 2.12; 95% CI, 1.65–2.73) than did participants in the first (lowest) quartile. In summary, our results in Mexican Americans support an association between increased mtDNA copy number and cancer risk. Our results also suggest that mtDNA copy number may be influenced by social and demographic factors.

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