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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2010 Jun-Jul;1797(6-7):1119-23. doi: 10.1016/j.bbabio.2010.02.032. Epub 2010 Mar 6.

Genotype-phenotype correlations in Leber hereditary optic neuropathy.

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Institute of Genetics and Biotechnology, Faculty of Biology, University of Warsaw, Ul. Pawinskiego 5a, 02-106 Warsaw, Poland.


Leber hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON), acute or subacute vision loss due to retinal ganglion cell death which in the long run leads to optic nerve atrophy is one of the most widely studied maternally inherited diseases caused by mutations in mitochondrial DNA. Although three common mutations, 11778G>A, 14484T>C or 3460G>A are responsible for over 90% of cases and affect genes encoding complex I subunits of the respiratory chain, their influence on bioenergetic properties of the cell is marginal and cannot fully explain the pathology of the disease. The following chain of events was proposed, based on biochemical and anatomical properties of retinal ganglion cells whose axons form the optic nerve: mitochondrial DNA mutations increase reactive oxygen species production in these sensitive cells, leading to caspase-independent apoptosis. As LHON is characterized by low penetrance and sex bias (men are affected about 5 times more frequently than women) the participation of the other factors-genetic and environmental-beside mtDNA mutations was studied. Mitochondrial haplogroups and smoking are some of the factors involved in the complex etiology of this disease.

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