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J Leukoc Biol. 2004 Jun;75(6):995-1000. Epub 2004 Feb 24.

Endogenously oxidized mitochondrial DNA induces in vivo and in vitro inflammatory responses.

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University of Göteborg, Guldhedsgatan 10A, 41346 Göteborg, Sweden.


We report that mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is inflammatogenic in vitro and in vivo as a result of the presence of unmethylated CpG sequences and its oxidative status. Purified human and murine mtDNAs induced arthritis when injected intra-articularly (i.a.) in mice. Importantly, oligodeoxynucleotide that contained a single oxidatively damaged base also induced arthritis when injected i.a. in mice. In contrast, neither human nor murine nuclear DNA induced inflammation. mtDNA-induced arthritis was neither B cell- nor T cell-dependent but was mediated by monocytes/macrophages. mtDNA-induced nuclear factor-kappaB stimulation resulted in the production of tumor necrosis factor alpha, a potent, arthritogenic factor. Finally, extracellular mtDNA was detected in the synovial fluids of rheumatoid arthritis patients but not of control subjects. We conclude that endogenous mtDNA displays inflammatogenic properties as a result of its content of unmethylated CpG motifs and oxidatively damaged adducts.

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