Bone marrow‐derived mitochondrial DNA has limited capacity for inter‐tissue transfer in vivo Academic Article uri icon

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  • Studies have shown that mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) can be exchanged between tissues; however, the mechanism(s) behind this phenomenon remain unclear. Exosomes and other extracellular vesicles (EVs) including microvesicles (MV) have been shown to contain mtDNA. EVs can be derived from a number of tissues; however, the source and relative proportion of EVs containing mtDNA remains unknown. We sampled whole blood and the EV fractions (exosome-enriched, MV-enriched, and apoptotic body-enriched) as well as several tissues (epithelial-cheek and urine sediment), connective (fibroblasts), and skeletal muscle in two subjects who received allogenic bone marrow transplants. Next generation sequencing of the mtDNA confirmed that all EV fractions contained mtDNA and most was derived from the donor, confirming that most of the EV fractions in the serum are bone marrow/blood cell-derived. Even after exposure to the donor mtDNA in EV fractions (and potentially free in the plasma) for years, there was little to no transfer of the donor mtDNA to the host mtDNA fraction in epithelial, connective, or skeletal muscle tissues. These data call into question the potential therapeutic use of bone marrow transplant or EV-based delivery systems for mtDNA-based disorders and establish bone marrow as the primary source of most of the mtDNA enriched EVs in serum.


  • Tarnopolsky, Mark
  • Kerkhof, Jennifer
  • Stuart, Alan
  • Bujak, Adam
  • Nilsson, Mats I
  • Hettinga, Bart
  • May, Linda
  • Rupar, C Anthony
  • Sadikovic, Bekim

publication date

  • July 2020