Mitochondrial DNA Copy Number and Incident Atrial Fibrillation

Di Zhao, Traci M. Bartz, Nona Sotoodehnia, Wendy S. Post, Susan R. Heckbert, Alvaro Alonso, Ryan J. Longchamps, Christina A. Castellani, Yun Soo Hong, Jerome I. Rotter, Henry J. Lin, Brian O'Rourke, Nathan Pankratz, John A. Lane, Stephanie Y. Yang, Eliseo Guallar, Dan E. Arking

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Mechanistic studies suggests that mitochondria DNA (mtDNA) dysfunction may be associated with increased risk of atrial fibrillation (AF). The association between mtDNA copy number (mtDNA-CN) and incident AF in the general population, however, remains unknown. Methods: We conducted prospective analyses of 19,709 participants from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (ARIC), the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) and the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS). mtDNA-CN from peripheral blood was calculated from probe intensities on the Affymetrix Genome-Wide Human single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) Array 6.0 in ARIC and MESA, and from multiplexed real time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) in CHS. Incident AF cases were identified through electrocardiograms, review of hospital discharge codes, Medicare claims, and death certificates. Results: The median follow-up time was 21.4 years in ARIC, 12.9 years in MESA and 11.0 years in CHS, during which 4,021 participants developed incident atrial fibrillation (1,761 in ARIC, 790 in MESA, and 1,470 in CHS). The fully-adjusted pooled hazard ratio for incident atrial fibrillation comparing the 1st to the 5th quintile of mitochondria DNA copy number was 1.13 (1.01, 1.27). The fully-adjusted pooled hazard ratio comparing the 10th vs the 90th percentile of mitochondria DNA copy number was 1.13 (1.04, 1.24). Dose-response spline analysis also showed an inverse association between mitochondria DNA copy number and hazard for atrial fibrillation for all three cohorts. These associations were consistent across subgroups. Conclusions: Mitochondria DNA copy number was inversely associated with the risk of AF independent of traditional cardiovascular risk factors. These findings implicate mitochondria DNA copy number as a novel risk factor for atrial fibrillation. Further research is warranted to understand the underlying mechanisms and to evaluate the role of mitochondria DNA copy number in the management of atrial fibrillation risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - Nov 20 2019


  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Mitochondria DNA copy number
  • MtDNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)

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