High rate of hypertension in patients with m.3243A>G MELAS mutations and POLG variants Academic Article uri icon

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  • Animal studies suggest that decreased vascular mitochondrial DNA copy number can promote hypertension. We conducted a chart review of blood pressure and hemodynamics in patients with either mitochondrial encephalopathy, lactic acidosis, and stroke-like episodes (MELAS, n = 36) or individuals with variants in the mitochondrial DNA polymerase gamma (POLG, n = 26). The latter included both pathogenic variants and variants of unknown significance (VUS). Hypertension rates (MELAS 50%, POLG 50%) were elevated relative to Canadian norms in 20-39 (MELAS) and 40-59 (MELAS and POLG) years of age groups. Peripheral resistance was high in the hypertensive versus normotensive patients, potentially indicative of microvascular disease. Despite antihypertensive treatment, systolic blood pressure remained elevated in the POLG versus MELAS group. The risk of hypertension was not associated with MELAS heteroplasmy. Hypertension rates were not different between individuals with known pathogenic POLG variants and those with VUS, including common variants. Hypertension (HT) also did not differ between patients with POLG variants with (n = 17) and without chronic progressive external opthalmoplegia (n = 9) (CPEO). HT was associated with variants in all three functional domains of POLG. These findings suggest that both pathogenic variants and several VUS in the POLG gene may promote human hypertension and extend our past reports that increased risk of HT is associated with MELAS.


  • Pauls, Andrew D
  • Sandhu, Vikrant
  • Young, Dana
  • Nevay, Dayna-Lynn
  • Yeung, Darwin F
  • Sirrs, Sandra
  • Tsang, Michael
  • Tsang, Teresa SM
  • Lehman, Anna
  • Mezei, Michelle M
  • Poburko, Damon

publication date

  • July 2020