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Biochim Biophys Acta. 1992 Dec 10;1180(2):113-22.

Accumulation of deletions in human mitochondrial DNA during normal aging: analysis by quantitative PCR.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032.


We have developed a quantitative PCR technique to measure the amount of a specific mitochondrial DNA deletion (delta mtDNA), the so-called 'common deletion', in human tissues. Using this method, we estimate that there is a 10,000-fold increase in this delta mtDNA species in muscle during the course of the normal human lifespan. The maximum amount of common deletion observed in aged muscle was approx. 0.1%. Tissues that turn-over slowly, such as skeletal muscle and heart, contained more delta mtDNA than more rapidly dividing tissues, such as liver, in agreement with studies performed by others.

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