Neither cardiac mitochondrial DNA variation nor copy number contribute to congenital heart disease risk

Jon A.L. Willcox, Joshua T. Geiger, Sarah U. Morton, David McKean, Daniel Quiat, Joshua M. Gorham, Angela C. Tai, Steven DePalma, Daniel Bernstein, Martina Brueckner, Wendy K. Chung, Alessandro Giardini, Elizabeth Goldmuntz, Jonathan R. Kaltman, Richard Kim, Jane W. Newburger, Yufeng Shen, Deepak Srivastava, Martin Tristani-Firouzi, Bruce GelbGeorge A. Porter, J. G. Seidman, Christine E. Seidman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The well-established manifestation of mitochondrial mutations in functional cardiac disease (e.g., mitochondrial cardiomyopathy) prompted the hypothesis that mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequence and/or copy number (mtDNAcn) variation contribute to cardiac defects in congenital heart disease (CHD). MtDNAcns were calculated and rare, non-synonymous mtDNA mutations were identified in 1,837 CHD-affected proband-parent trios, 116 CHD-affected singletons, and 114 paired cardiovascular tissue/blood samples. The variant allele fraction (VAF) of heteroplasmic variants in mitochondrial RNA from 257 CHD cardiovascular tissue samples was also calculated. On average, mtDNA from blood had 0.14 rare variants and 52.9 mtDNA copies per nuclear genome per proband. No variation with parental age at proband birth or CHD-affected proband age was seen. mtDNAcns in valve/vessel tissue (320 ± 70) were lower than in atrial tissue (1,080 ± 320, p = 6.8E−21), which were lower than in ventricle tissue (1,340 ± 280, p = 1.4E−4). The frequency of rare variants in CHD-affected individual DNA was indistinguishable from the frequency in an unaffected cohort, and proband mtDNAcns did not vary from those of CHD cohort parents. In both the CHD and the comparison cohorts, mtDNAcns were significantly correlated between mother-child, father-child, and mother-father. mtDNAcns among people with European (mean = 52.0), African (53.0), and Asian haplogroups (53.5) were calculated and were significantly different for European and Asian haplogroups (p = 2.6E−3). Variant heteroplasmic fraction (HF) in blood correlated well with paired cardiovascular tissue HF (r = 0.975) and RNA VAF (r = 0.953), which suggests blood HF is a reasonable proxy for HF in heart tissue. We conclude that mtDNA mutations and mtDNAcns are unlikely to contribute significantly to CHD risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)961-966
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Human Genetics
Issue number5
StatePublished - 5 May 2022


  • congenital heart disease
  • genome sequencing
  • mitochondrial copy number
  • mitochondrial genome


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