It has been suggested that mitochondrial dysfunction and DNA damage are involved in lymphomagenesis. Increased copy number of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) as a compensatory mechanism of mitochondrial dysfunction previously has been associated with B-cell lymphomas, in particular chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). However, current evidence is limited and based on a relatively small number of cases. Using a nested case-control study, we extended these findings with a focus on subtype-specific analyses. Relative mtDNA copy number was measured in the buffy coat of prospectively collected blood of 469 lymphoma cases and 469 matched controls. The association between mtDNA copy number and the risk of developing lymphoma and histologic subtypes was examined using logistic regression models. We found no overall association between mtDNA and risk of lymphoma. Subtype analyses revealed significant increased risks of CLL (n = 102) with increasing mtDNA copy number (odds ratio = 1.34, 1.44, and 1.80 for quartiles 2-4, respectively; P trend = .001). mtDNA copy number was not associated with follow-up time, suggesting that this observation is not strongly influenced by indolent disease status. This study substantially strengthens the evidence that mtDNA copy number is related to risk of CLL and supports the importance of mitochondrial dysfunction as a possible mechanistic pathway in CLL ontogenesis.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





530 - 535


Adult, Aged, Case-Control Studies, DNA Copy Number Variations, DNA, Mitochondrial, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Hodgkin Disease, Humans, Lymphoma, B-Cell, Lymphoma, T-Cell, Male, Middle Aged, Mitochondria, Prognosis, Prospective Studies, Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction, Risk Factors