Prenatal exposure to tobacco smoke leads to increased mitochondrial DNA content in umbilical cord serum associated to reduced gestational age

Francesca Pirini, Lynn R. Goldman, Ethan Soudry, Rolf U. Halden, Frank R Witter, David Sidransky, Rafael Guerrero-Preston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We investigated if prenatal exposures to tobacco smoke lead to changes in mitochondrial DNA content (mtDNA) in cord serum and adversely affect newborns’ health. Umbilical cord serum cotinine levels were used to determine in utero exposure to smoking. Cord serum mtDNA was measured by quantitative polymerase chain reaction analysis of the genes coding for cytochrome c oxidase1 (MT-CO1) and cytochrome c oxidase2 (MT-CO2). Log transformed levels of mtDNA coding for MT-CO1 and MT-CO2 were significantly higher among infants of active smokers with higher serum level of cotinine (p < 0.05) and inversely associated with gestational age (p = 0.08; p = 0.02). Structural equation modeling results confirmed a positive association between cotinine and MT-CO1 and2 (p < 0.01) and inverse associations with gestational age (p = 0.02) and IGF-1 (p < 0.01). We identified a dose-dependent increase in the level of MT-CO1 and MT-CO2 associated to increased cord serum cotinine and decreased gestational age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-67
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Health Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2017



  • gestational age
  • maternal smoking
  • mitochondrial DNA content
  • molecular biomarkers in cord serum
  • MT-CO1
  • MT-CO2
  • Prenatal exposure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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