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The T414G Mitochondrial DNA Mutation: A Biomarker Of Ageing In Human Eye

Anne-Sophie Gary, Marie M Dorr, Patrick J Rochette

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Abstract The mitochondrial mutation T414G (mtDNAT414G) has been shown to accumulate in aged and sun-exposed skin. The human eye is also exposed to solar harmful rays. More precisely, the anterior structures of the eye (cornea, iris) filter UV rays and the posterior portion of the eye (retina) is exposed to visible light. These rays can catalyse mutations in mitochondrial DNA such as the mtDNAT414G, but the latter has never been investigated in the human ocular structures. In this study, we have developed a technique to precisely assess the occurrence of mtDNAT414G. Using this technique, we have quantified mtDNAT414G in different human ocular structures. We found an age-dependent accumulation of mtDNAT414G in the corneal stroma, the cellular layer conferring transparency and rigidity to the human cornea, and in the iris. Since cornea and iris are two anterior ocular structures exposed to solar UV rays, this suggests that the mtDNAT414G mutation is resulting from cumulative solar exposure and this could make the mtDNAT414G a good marker of solar exposure. We have previously shown that the mtDNACD4977 and mtDNA3895 deletions accumulate over time in photo-exposed ocular structures. With the addition of mtDNAT414G mutation, it becomes feasible to combine the levels of these different mtDNA mutations to obtain an accurate assessment of the solar exposure that an individual has accumulated during his/her lifetime.