Preclinical evidence for mitochondrial DNA as a potential blood biomarker for chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy

Annalisa Trecarichi, Natalie A. Duggett, Lucy Granat, Samantha Lo, Afshan N. Malik, Lorena Zuliani-Álvarez, Sarah J.L. Flatters*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) is a serious dose-limiting side effect of several first-line chemotherapeutic agents including paclitaxel, oxaliplatin and bortezomib, for which no predictive marker is currently available. We have previously shown that mitochondrial dysfunction is associated with the development and maintenance of CIPN. The aim of this study was to evaluate the potential use of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) levels and complex I enzyme activity as blood biomarkers for CIPN. Real-time qPCR was used to measure mtDNA levels in whole blood collected from chemotherapy- and vehicle-treated rats at three key time-points of pain-like behaviour: prior to pain development, at the peak of mechanical hypersensitivity and at resolution of pain-like behaviour. Systemic oxaliplatin significantly increased mtDNA levels in whole blood prior to pain development. Furthermore, paclitaxel- and bortezomib-treated animals displayed significantly higher levels of mtDNA at the peak of mechanical hypersensitivity. Mitochondrial complex I activity in whole blood was assessed with an ELISA-based Complex I Enzyme Activity Dipstick Assay. Complex I activity was not altered by any of the three chemotherapeutic agents, either prior to or during pain-like behaviour. These data demonstrate that blood levels of mtDNA are altered after systemic administration of chemotherapy. Oxaliplatin, in particular, is associated with higher mtDNA levels before animals show any pain-like behaviour, thus suggesting a potential role for circulating mtDNA levels as non-invasive predictive biomarker for CIPN.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0262544
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


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