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Evaluation of two mitochondrial DNA biomarkers for prostate cancer detection



Samantha D. Maragh, Steven P. Lund


BACKGROUND: A 3.4kb deletion (3.4kbΔ) in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) found in histologically normal prostate biopsy specimens has been reported to be a biomarker for the increased probability of prostate cancer. Increased mtDNA copy number is also reported as associated with cancer. OBJECTIVE: Independent evaluation of these two potential prostate cancer biomarkers using formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) prostate tissue and matched urine and serum from a high risk cohort of men with and without prostate cancer. METHODS: Biomarker levels were detected via qPCR. RESULTS: Both 3.4kbΔ and mtDNA levels were significantly higher in cancer patient FFPE cores (p=0.045 and p=0.070 respectively at >90% confidence). Urine from cancer patients contained significantly higher levels of mtDNA (p=0.006, 64.3% sensitivity, 86.7% specificity). Combining the 3.4kbΔ and mtDNA gave better performance of detecting prostate cancer than either biomarker alone (FFPE 73.7% sensitivity, 65% specificity; urine 64.3% sensitivity, 100% specificity). In serum, there was no difference for any of the biomarkers. CONCLUSIONS: This is the first report on detecting the 3.4kbΔ in urine and evaluating mtDNA levels as a prostate cancer biomarker. A confirmation study with increased sample size and possibly with additional biomarkers would need to be conducted to corroborate and extend these observations.
Cancer Biomarkers


prostate, cancer, biomarker, mitochondrial DNA, 3.4kb deletion, urine, serum, FFPE, NIST, EDRN


Maragh, S. and Lund, S. (2015), Evaluation of two mitochondrial DNA biomarkers for prostate cancer detection, Cancer Biomarkers, [online], (Accessed June 16, 2024)


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Created August 17, 2015, Updated November 10, 2018