Role and clinical significance of lymphocyte mitochondrial dysfunction in type 2 diabetes mellitus

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Lymphocyte homeostasis in type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is associated with increased susceptibility to infections. Mitochondrial oxidative stress is implicated primarily in the immune pathophysiology of diabetes; however, the molecular underpinnings of lymphocyte mitochondrial dysfunction and ensuing downstream cellular effects are hitherto unreported. Both in early diagnosed patients and patients with late complications, we observed an inverse correlation between mitochondrial DNA content in lymphocytes and hemoglobin A1 (HbA1c) levels. This relation established for the first time might serve as a general, yet direct, predictor or indicator for mitochondrial dysfunction in T2DM. Compared with controls, nuclear DNA damage response was higher (P≤ 0.001) in diabetic subjects with increased accumulation of phospho-ataxia-telangiectasia (ATM), γ-H2AX, along with active recruitment of repair proteins (Mre11, Rad50, and Nbs1). A higher frequency (>2%) of stable chromosomal anomalies with loss of telomere integrity was observed in cases with late complications. A significant decrease (P≤ 0.001) in enzyme activity of complex II, III, and IV of mitochondrial respiratory chain was evident in both diabetic groups in comparison with healthy controls. Activation in the cascade of nuclear factor kappa-beta (NF-κβ)-mediated feed-forward proinflammatory cytokine response was noted among T2DM subjects. Increased oxidative stress, mitochondrial membrane depolarization, activation of caspase-3, and PARP observed in diabetic groups indicatedbaxtriggered mitochondrial mediated cellular apoptosis. Our results provide the first insights of lymphocyte mitochondrial dysfunction that might be helpful in explaining the clinical significance of immunologic perturbation observed in type 2 diabetic conditions. Our data also indicate that maneuvering through the mitochondrial function might be a viable, indirect method to modulate lymphocyte homeostasis in T2DM.

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