Cell-free DNA (cfDNA) and cell-free mitochondrial DNA (cfmtDNA) as potential stress-related biomarkers
Chronic psychosocial stress makes sick, whereas physical stress is beneficial for both physical and mental health. We recently exposed 20 healthy young men to stress: Psychosocial stress using the TSST and physical stress on the treadmill. We found increases in cortisol as well as adrenaline and noradrenaline under both conditions. Interestingly, the amount of cell-free DNA (cfDNA) in plasma increased as well. The investigation of the corresponding DNA methylation pattern showed that they were secreted by different cells in the two conditions. Accordingly, cell-free DNA could represent a messenger substance that is selectively secreted in different stress situations. In that context it is noteworthy that we also found an increased amount of cell-free mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) in the plasma after both conditions. Further research on this project is ongoing.
In an attempt to harmonize methods for the quantification and qualification of cell-free mtDNA, together with our colleagues Martin Picard and Caroline Trumpff (Columbia University, NY - USA), we recently presented an overview on cell-free mtDNA under stress-related conditions and proposed protocols for improved and standardized analysis of cell-free mtDNA.
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Trumpff, C., Mechelson, J., Lagranha, C. J., Taleon, V., Karan, K. R., Sturm, G., Lindqvist, D., Fernström, J., Moser, D., Kaufman, B. A., & Picard, M. (2021). Stress and circulating cell-free mitochondrial DNA: A systematic review of human studies, physiological considerations, and technical recommendations. Mitochondrion, 59, 225-245.
Hummel, E. M., Hessas, E., Müller, S., Beiter, T., Fisch, M., Eibl, A., Wolf, O. T., Giebel, B., Platen, P., Kumsta, R. & Moser, D. A. (2018). Cell-free DNA release under psychosocial and physical stress conditions. Translational psychiatry, 8(1), 1-10.