Accumulation of mitochondrial DNA deletions in human oral tissues - Effects of betel quid chewing and oral cancer

Hsin Chen Lee, Pen Hui Yin, Tzu Ning Yu, Yeong Dar Chang, Wen Chen Hsu, Shou Yen Kao, Chin Wen Chi, Tsung Yun Liu, Yau Huei Wei*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

81 Scopus citations


Accumulation of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutations in human tissues has been associated with intrinsic aging and environmental insult. Recently, mtDNA mutations have been detected in various tumors, including head and neck tumors. However, the factors affecting the occurrence and accumulation of mtDNA deletions in tumor tissues are poorly understood. In Taiwan, betel quid chewing is a major risk factor for oral cancer. Using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) techniques, we examined large-scale deletions of mtDNA in 53 pairs of tumor and non-tumor oral tissues from the patients with or without betel quid chewing history. The results revealed that irrespective of the history of betel quid chewing, the incidences of the 4977 bp deletion and other deletions of mtDNA were lower in the tumor portion as compared with the non-tumor portion. The average proportions of the 4977 bp deleted mtDNA in the tumor tissues of the betel quid chewers and non-betel quid chewers were 13- and 5-fold, respectively, lower than those in the corresponding non-tumor tissues. Moreover, the average proportion of 4977 bp deleted mtDNA was significantly higher (P < 0.05) in the non-tumor oral tissues of the patients with betel quid chewing history than that of the patients without the history of betel quid chewing. These results suggest that betel quid chewing may increase mtDNA mutation in human oral tissues and that accumulation of mtDNA deletions and subsequent cytoplasmic segregation of these mutations during cell division could be an important contributor to the early phase of oral carcinogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-74
Number of pages8
JournalMutation Research - Genetic Toxicology and Environmental Mutagenesis
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 27 06 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Betel quid chewing
  • Mitochondrial DNA deletions
  • Oral cancer
  • Oxidativestress


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